Rail services across Great Britain are set to be cut to around 72% of pre-pandemic levels.
Prior to the announcement of new lockdowns across Britain, services had returned to approximately 87% of normal levels, having been cut by nearly a half last year.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operating companies (TOCs) and Network Rail, said work has been undertaken to maintain peak time services and those used by key workers, as well as space for social distancing, building on experience from last year.
It said amended timetables are now available to view on journey planners, adding that ‘while the time of some services may change, other services may no longer be running during the period of increased restrictions’.
The changes are ebing implemented at different times by TOCs across England, Scotland and Wales and some have already reduced services.
The RDG added that the cuts will mean a reliable service, as rail staff, who are also key workers, may be affected by the virus.
The cuts ‘will also ensure that service levels match demand which means better value for taxpayers’, the RDG said, reflecting the fact that the Government now pays for the operation of the rail industry.
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘It is critical that our railways continue to deliver reliable services for key workers and people who cannot reasonably work from home, and that they respond quickly to changes in demand.
'The new reduced timetable delivers that, as well as reducing the financial burden on the taxpayer.'
The RDG’s director of nations and regions, Robert Nisbet, said: 'Changing to a reduced timetable during this period of much lower demand will deliver certainty for those people who need to travel while saving taxpayers’ money. We ask people to check before they travel in the weeks ahead and we thank our frontline rail staff whose hard work is keeping other key workers moving.'
The RDG described the changes as temporary and said they are being made in such a way that rail services can be restored as quickly as possible when restrictions are eased and more people begin to travel.