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Before Christmas, rail operators put the running of as many services as possible as a priority in order to support customers getting away for the festive period.
Working with the Government, a number of rail companies are bringing in temporarily amended timetables in order to provide reliable services for passengers with less short notice cancellations. The changes are due to a high level of staff absences due to Covid-19.
As the Omicron Variant has spread, restrictions have been put in place and fewer people are now travelling. The changes will make services more resilient in case of higher levels of staff absences, the new timetables will also mean that taxpayers are getting the best value for money as the number of services running equals demand. Rail operators have opted to take these measures during earlier periods where work from home advice was in place.
Some train companies have got underway with their amended timetables with others introducing theirs over the next 2 weeks. The new temporary timetables work on known peak travel times to provide trains for key workers, school pupils and those who are unable to work from home. The new timetables will also mean that important freight services can move vital goods like medicines and food throughout the country.
In order to make extra space for passengers whilst fewer trains are in service, more carriages will be added to services.
Rail operators are also supporting customers via the ‘Book with Confidence’ scheme which allows passengers to change their travel plans up to the evening before departure without getting charged a fee, or to cancel their journey and receive refunds in the form of rail vouchers. The scheme has recently been extended until the end of March 2022 by the Government.
In order to give passengers the confidence to travel by train, rail operators are continuing with enhanced cleaning, ensuring trains are well ventilated with eight out of 10 carriages featuring systems that refresh the air every six to nine minutes. Information will also be improved about how busy trains are so that customers can avoid busier times. Passengers can also sign up for Alert Me updates via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to receive personalised up-to-date travel information.
If a train is cancelled, passengers are reminded that they can use their tickets on other trains without the need to pay extra.
Susie Homan, Director of People, Operations and Railway Strategy at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said:
“The temporary timetables that rail companies are putting in place, with government support, will help ensure more reliable services with fewer short notice cancellations so that we can continue to get people and goods to where they need to be.
“The government has supported the railway with over £15 billion since the start of the pandemic and it makes sense to better match the number of trains that are running with the number of people travelling so that the industry gets the most out of every taxpayer pound and doesn’t take more than its fair share of public money.
“We would advise anyone travelling to check online before they set out on their journey or to sign up for automatic alerts from National Rail Alert Me.”
This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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