Coronavirus: Reduced train timetable across Sussex as Government announces refund on all train tickets

Railway news
Railway news

Southern Rail has announced a reduced timetable across its services starting from today.

A Saturday timetable will be run across Southern Rail and Thameslink services from today, while a reduced service will run on Gatwick Express.

A Southern Rail spokesman said: “With significant reductions to the number of people travelling; and as staff sickness and self-isolation starting to rise, we have introduced a revised timetable until further notice.

“This is being done to ensure we are able run a service during the prolonged Coronavirus outbreak.”

Services will be further reduced to a Sunday timetable from Monday, March 30, onwards.

New measures have also put in place on trains in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“We have employed additional staff to increase the amount of cleaning taking place overnight at all our depots,” the spokesman said.

“We have stepped up cleaning regimes to ensure that all surfaces including handrails, ticket machine touch screens and door handles are kept clean at all stations, with particular focus on our busiest locations.

“Trains are also being checked and cleaned more regularly throughout the day.

“Measures are being taken to ensure all trains have water, soap and paper available in toilets before they start every journey.

“We also have measures in place to deep clean specific locations should there be a confirmed case of the coronavirus.”

It comes as the Government announced a range of new emergency rail measures, as railways see a 70 per cent drop in passenger numbers.

The Government has today announced it will take over railway services for an initial period of six months.

Normal franchise agreements will be suspended and all revenue and cost risk will be transferred.

A Government spokesman said: “This will allow us to ensure that trains necessary for key workers and essential travel continue to operate.

“No other passengers should travel.

“As we have already announced, services will be reduced from today.”

Other measures announced include a fee-free refund of all Advance tickets as passengers follow Government advice and work from home.

All season ticket holders can claim a refund for time unused on their tickets free of administrative charges.

Ticket holders should contact their operator for details.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “We are taking this action to protect the key workers who depend on our railways to carry on their vital roles, the hardworking commuters who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, and the frontline rail staff who are keeping the country moving.

“People deserve certainty that the services they need will run or that their job is not at risk in these unprecedented times.

“We are also helping passengers get refunds on Advance tickets to ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing.

“These offers will give operators the confidence and certainty so they can play their part in the national interest.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “The rail industry is working together so that people and goods can keep making essential journeys during this unprecedented national challenge, getting key workers to hospitals, food to shops and fuel to power stations.

“The industry strongly welcomes the Department for Transport’s offer of temporary support and while we need to finalise the details, this will ensure that train companies can focus all their efforts on delivering a vital service at a time of national need.

“We would like to thank our people, who continue to do an incredible job in difficult circumstances.”