highbridge railway station

Rail passengers using Highbridge rail station and others in the South West could face disruption as train companies cut their timetables to cope with staff shortages.

Drivers, guards and station staff across the region are going off sick with Covid or being forced into self-isolation – and operators are responding by stripping back services.

From Saturday (January 8) Great Western Railway (GWR) will run a stripped back timetable, with some lines operating at 80 per cent of their usual frequency.

Trains between London, Bristol, Wales and the South West will be affected, while branch lines down to west Cornwall will move from half-hour to hourly services.

Mark Chorley, station manager at Plymouth, says the changing situation makes it almost impossible to plan ahead.

“It fluctuates from day to day,” he said. “We have people coming back to work from Covid, but we also have people going off with Covid.

“By changing the timetable, we have confidence that we will have colleagues here to run those trains and we will have less services being cancelled.

“We need the driver, the guard and the station manager to run the trains.”

It is a similar story for the region’s bus companies.

In a statement, Stagecoach said: “Our teams are working very hard to continue running our planned services for customers.”

“However due to the increasing numbers of employees impacted by the virus, we may not be able to run every service as planned and there may be some changes to services.”

“Where this is the case, we will ensure customers are updated through our customer channels with as much notice as possible.”

Transport providers say anyone affected by delays and cancellations may be entitled to a refund or can exchange their ticket for a different journey.


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