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GWR introduces reduced temporary timetable in response to Covid-related staff absences

Great Western Railway is introducing a temporary reduced timetable in response to higher than usual levels of staff being absent or self-isolating due to Covid.  

The temporary timetable reduction comes into effect from Saturday 8 January, ensuring that the rail company can provide the majority of its usual, planned trains. This will give customers confidence about services so they can plan ahead.  

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. 

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 driver 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 with details of any changes needed for the week ahead.  

“As always our advice to customers is please check your journey before you leave home at” 

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.  

There are also some reductions to long-distance services on other routes on the network.  

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. 

The industry’s Book with Confidence scheme has been extended until the end of March so that passengers can change their travel plans up to the evening before departure without being charged a fee, or if they choose not to travel are able to receive a refund on their unused ticket. 

Those taking the train are advised to check their journey before leaving home at If a train is cancelled, customers will be able to travel on a service immediately before or after their booked train. 

In line with the latest Government advice, GWR is encouraging customers to travel safely. 
People are reminded to: 

  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash your hands more regularly
  • Buy tickets online, on a smart card or by using the GWR app

Notes to editors 

First Greater Western Limited, trading as “Great Western Railway” (GWR), operates trains across the Great Western franchise area, which includes South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, across southern England and into London. GWR provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services, and before the covid-19 pandemic helped over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year. GWR was recently awarded an extension to its direct award franchise (called DA3), which shall run up to 31 March 2023, with an option to extend for a further year.  
Find out more here:  

GWR’s enhanced cleaning regime includes:   

  • A 24% increase in cleaning hours every week since March 2020  
  • Sanitising (fogging) of 1,120 vehicles every 4 weeks  
  • Carrying out 2,150 on board surface tests (ATP) every four weeks, to ensure the effectiveness of our cleaning  
  • 272 train cleaning processes reviewed, and many adapted  
  • Hand sanitising facilities at key stations across its network.  

Contact Information

John Carter

Media and Communications Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444

07715 040424