GWR timetable changes: What is different and passengers’ reaction

The train firm is expecting prolonged periods of staff absence due to Covid

Great Western Railway has been forced to launch a reduced timetablethrough Bristol Temple Meads amid staff absences due to Covid.

The temporary timetable reduction came into effect on Saturday, January 8, allowing the rail company to provide the majority of its usual, planned trains.

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The reduced timetable will be updated on a weekly basis and is only expected to be in operation ‘for a short time’, until the impact of the Omicron variant has lessened.

As part of the chanhes. services between London Paddington, Bristol Temple Meads and South Wales will run to an hourly frequency at weekends as a result of pre-planned engineering works.

A slightly reduced service will operate from Monday to Friday and there are also some reductions to long-distance services on other routes on the network.

BristolWorld spoke to commuters on the timetable changes who seemed to think the train company were doing well and putting on enough trains to meet their needs despite staff absences.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:  “We are taking some sensible measures using the experience, knowledge and good processes we have developed over the past 20 months to give customers confidence in our timetable.

“In the past few weeks we have already taken steps to maintain service levels across the network, including cancelling all non-safety critical staff training.

“Like many other businesses we are expecting prolonged periods of staff absence due to Covid to continue in the coming weeks and the objective of this temporary timetable is to provide a service that can be relied on, reducing the potential for ad hoc short-notice cancellations.

“This means reducing our timetable a little to shore up the large number of services we continue to operate. We have prioritised high-use school, college and other known key worker services and we very much hope that the changes will only be needed for a short period.

“We will be reviewing the need for temporary changes weekly and will update journey planners and our website gwr.com with details of any changes needed for the week ahead. “

Other affected routes include some of the Devon and Cornwall branch lines.

The St Ives branch will revert to hourly services on weekdays and some other services in the West are also impacted.

Planned upgrade work between Newton Abbot and Paignton means that no trains will run for the next two weekends – and a bus replacement service will be in operation.

If a train is cancelled, customers will be able to travel on a service immediately before or after their booked train.

Travellers are advised to check their journey before they leave home at journeycheck.com/greatwesternrailway.

In line with the latest Government advice, people are still being reminded to:

Wear a face covering

Wash your hands more regularly

Buy tickets online, on a smart card or by using the GWR app