Chaos for rail passengers as trains hit with triple blow of Omicron, planned closures and strikes

27 December 2021, 12:40 | Updated: 27 December 2021, 13:32

Many people will have their festive travel plans disrupted
Many people will have their festive travel plans disrupted. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Travel plans over the festive period are being badly affected by a triple threat of industrial action, planned closures and staff shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Several rail services are currently experiencing disruption due to staff being ill with Covid-19.

TransPennine Express, ScotRail, Avanti West Coast, Northern Rail, LNER and Greater Anglia have all reported an impact on services caused by a lack of available staff.

Meanwhile, East Midlands Railway services continue to be affected by industrial action by the RMT union, with an amended service expected to run on January 2.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said the disruption could have been avoided if rail companies had taken the concerns of staff seriously.

"The added problem of Covid absences proves that the railway runs at its limits on staffing levels and should mean an immediate halt to threatened staff cuts in the New Year," he added.

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A number of routes are also being impacted by planned engineering works.

Southern's Gatwick Airport trains are operating to and from London Bridge instead of London Victoria until January 3.

In the north, Leeds will have a reduced service between December 27 and January 3, including a "very limited" service on January 2.

In the west, CrossCountry trains will not call at Bristol Parkway between December 27 and December 31.

Some Great Western Railway services to and from Bristol Temple Meads will also be affected.

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Despite the closures, National Rail said that 95 per cent of Britain's rail network will remain open during the festive period.

It added that the 370 engineering projects it is carrying out over Christmas were planned "months, and in some cases years, in advance".

Commuters and travellers to the capital can expect similar travel woes, with the Tube hit by planned closures.

The Piccadilly line has been closed between Heathrow Airport and Acton Town until December 30.

There is no service on the Jubilee line between Willesden Green and Wembley Park nor on the Metropolitan line between Wembley Park and Aldgate until December 28.

The Metropolitan and City line has been shut completely since December 23 and will not reopen until "early January", according to TfL's website.

The London Overground is shut between Gospel Oak and Stratford until December 29.