Coronavirus: West Midlands Railway offers new timetable

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A West Midlands Railway trainImage source, West Midlands Rail
Image caption,
The Worcester to Hereford route will no longer be served

Some train routes are to be dropped by West Midlands Railway during the coronavirus outbreak.

The rail operator says service cuts come as passenger numbers fall and more staff self-isolate.

The move is about ensuring regular provision to key workers and those making "only the most essential journeys," a spokesperson says.

A new timetable from Monday sees changes including the axing of the Worcester to Hereford route.

Trains will also not call at Bearley and Claverdon in Stratford, although the stations are served by Chiltern Railways.

Parent company West Midlands Trains said the new-look timetable had been "designed to keep as many services running as possible if part of the network had to close due to the increased impact of Covid-19".

Managing Director Julian Edwards said the sector was facing its "biggest challenge in peacetime".

He said: "We are working together to operate a regular service for our key workers and those making only the most essential journeys."

The new timetable, he added, had been built in "chunks" to reduce the length of journeys by individual trains, with some routes to see a reduction in service frequency.

All journeys between Birmingham New Street and London Euston will now involve a change at Northampton.

Analysis by Peter Plisner, transport correspondent

With passenger numbers down significantly since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, it's not that surprising that we are seeing further reductions in services.

Having effectively nationalised the rail network, the government is following a five-point plan for scaling back services, to cope with things like staff shortages.

It ranges from running a normal timetable to no trains at all. We now seem to be half-way down the scale.

While services are needed to guarantee that key workers can travel, there seems to be little point in running empty trains or duplicating services run by other operators.

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