Overground trains, run by London Overground and Southwestern Railway (SWR), will be running reduced services this week as Covid-related staff absences continue to affect the transport network.
On the London Overground, which serves Gunnersbury station, a half-hourly service will operate between Richmond and Willesden Junction until Friday 14 January. Usually, the services runs every 12-15 minutes.
There will be a reduction in frequency to six trains per hour in the core section of the Overground between Willesden Junction and Stratford, down from ten per hour. Trains will run every 10-15 minutes between Willesden Junction and Stratford instead of every 6-10 minutes. Weekend and Night Overground services are not affected.
The timetable changes mean a reduction of four trains per hour between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays on weekdays with no service between Surrey Quays and New Cross. This means 12 trains will operate per hour and that customers may have gaps between trains of up to eight minutes in the core section between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays.
On Southwestern Railway, which serves Chiswick station, a new timetable will be available from Monday, 17 January which will feature fewer trains running. SWR has warned that until the new timetable is operating, the number of short notice cancellations will increase.
TfL told The Chiswick Calendar they were operating a slightly better service than expected on this route on Monday (10 January), as they had more staff available than anticipated.
Image above: Chiswick Station
Up to 500 TfL staff have been absent from work
Across TfL’s workforce, there have been around 500 members of non-office-based staff off work due to a covid-related illness. The overall proportion of staff currently off work remains low, and TfL said they will continue to mitigate the impact and minimise the effects of absences on customers.
On Sunday, 9 January, there were 141,472 Coronavirus cases reported in the UK and 97 deaths. The Omicron Covid variant has spread rapidly across the UK over the last few weeks. On Sunday the UK passed a grim milestone – 150,000 people in the UK have now died within 28 days of a positive Covid test since the pandemic began, more than in any other European country.
The UK is the seventh country to pass 150,000 reported deaths, after the US, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru.
Staff shortages have had a ‘significant impact’ on services
A South Western Railway spokesperson, said:
“The onset of the Omicron variant has led to a shortage of staff across our business – from drivers and guards to engineers and controllers.
“These staff shortages have inevitably had a significant impact on our services, leading to short notice cancellations…
“Our focus is on producing a timetable that is deliverable, so that we improve reliability for our customers, and caters to key workers, school pupils and those who cannot work from home”.
Rory O’Neill, TfL’s General Manager for London Overground, said:
“Like many businesses and organisations around the country, we are experiencing the effects of the pandemic with a number of staff off ill due to COVID or self-isolating.
“To ensure we can provide a reliable service, it has been necessary to make some timetable changes to London Overground services from Dalston Junction to New Cross and Richmond to Stratford. Customers continue to have a range of travel options.
“We will continue to do all we can to keep operating a near to normal service but advise everyone to check our website and the TfL Go app before they travel as further services may be affected at short notice by staff absences.”
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Sadiq Khan: TfL have to plan a ‘managed decline’ of London’s public transport network
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