Rail disruption worsens due to Covid and strikes

Southern announced that none of its trains will run to or from London Victoria until January 10 due to 'coronavirus isolation and sickness'

Published

Disruption to rail services is worsening due to pandemic-related staff shortages and industrial action.

Southern announced that none of its trains will run to or from London Victoria until January 10 due to “coronavirus isolation and sickness”.

London Victoria is one of the UK’s busiest stations, and is normally connected by Southern to locations such as Brighton, Eastbourne and Portsmouth.

People wait for their trains on the concourse at Euston station in London.
People wait for their trains on the concourse at Euston station in London.

Meanwhile, CrossCountry urged customers to avoid travelling on New Year’s Eve as a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union means it will run “a very limited timetable”.

The firm will not operate any trains between these locations: Aberdeen and Edinburgh; Glasgow Central and Edinburgh; Derby and Nottingham; Peterborough and Stansted; Cheltenham Spa and Cardiff Central; Newton Abbot and Paignton; and Plymouth and Penzance.

A “heavily reduced service” will be in place between Edinburgh and Plymouth; Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth; and Birmingham New Street and Peterborough.

The dispute involves train managers and senior conductors in a row over the role of guards.

Many other operators in addition to Southern have cancelled trains due to the impact of the pandemic.

They include Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, London North Eastern Railway, Northern, ScotRail, TransPennine Express and Transport for Wales.

Southern’s decision to suspend its London Victoria services also means it will not serve Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common or Battersea Park.

Planned re-signalling work at London Victoria had already resulted in most Southern trains due to serve the station between December 27 and January 3 being diverted to run to and from London Bridge.

This was timed to coincide with the festive period when demand for travel is low.

Southern’s latest announcement means disruption will continue throughout the first working week of 2022.

RMT members employed by Gate Gourmet are also involved in a strike at Edinburgh Waverley on New Year’s Eve as part of a long-running dispute over allegations of bullying.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The disruption to services from the New Year’s Eve strike action is wholly down to these greedy private companies on our railways seeking to squeeze out every penny they can by hammering down on safety, jobs and workplace dignity.

“Our members at CrossCountry and Gate Gourmet are standing up for all rail workers as we expect a torrent of attacks on jobs, pay, safety, pensions and working conditions in 2022.

“We are ready for a new year of campaigning and action on all fronts.”