COMMUTERS who are still travelling despite the coronavirus outbreak are likely to be impacted next week as rail services are cut.

The three train companies who operate services in Herefordshire have all announced amended timetables from Monday (March 23).

The move will ensure key workers can still commute as the firms react to staff isolating and drop in demand. The revised timetables will be released later today (Friday).

Transport For Wales

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The company which runs services between north and south Wales, serving station at Hereford and Leominster has said it will continue to prioritise peak period to try and avoid "overly busy" travelling conditions.

A spokesperson from Transport for Wales said: “At Transport for Wales our primary focus is keeping our colleagues and customers safe. In line with the rest of the UK rail industry, and based on advice from public health bodies, we have taken the difficult decision to reduce weekday passenger services moving forward.

“This timetable has been designed to be as resilient as possible, whilst ensuring we balance a reduction in demand, availability of our people and the need to support key workers such as health, food retailers and delivery teams.

“This decision takes into account the latest public health guidance to protect customers and colleagues and fewer people using our services during this unprecedented period. Like everyone, our colleagues and their families will be feeling the impact of the pandemic and we thank all our customers for their patience and understanding.

“We will continue to prioritise peak periods in order to ensure we do not create overly busy travelling conditions and will be monitoring the situation on a daily basis to ensure people that need to travel during the period can still travel when absolutely necessary.

“For affected passengers, full details of the changes will be available to view in rail planning systems from midday Sunday 22nd March. Your ability to easily change travel plans during these extreme circumstances is really important to us, and we’re keen to offer you flexibility. You can find more information here: https://tfwrail.wales/covid-19 .

"Advanced tickets will also be eligible for refunds from Monday 23 March."

West Midlands Railway

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A revised timetable is also set to come into force from next week designed to keep essential workers moving on the line between Hereford and Birmingham, which also serves Ledbury and Colwall.

The operator says the move will build resilience into the train service as more rail workers begin self-isolating. The reduced timetable reflects the fall in demand for rail travel due to coronavirus.

With the Government advising against all non-essential travel and many people entering self-isolation, there has been a major fall in rail users over the last week.

Julian Edwards, managing director of West Midlands Railway, said: “Revising our timetable is the most effective way of making sure we continue to run a regular, reliable service to keep people moving in these exceptional circumstances.

“Like every employer in the country we have a number of our staff currently in self-isolation and attempting to continue with our regular timetable would be impossible.

“Although demand for rail travel has dropped, we know there are many thousands of people who need to keep moving, including NHS workers and others involved in delivering essential public services. That is why our front-line staff will continue coming to work in order to deliver this timetable and help keep the country moving.”

Great Western Railway

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For services to London from Hereford, these will also be reduced.

GWR interim managing director Matthew Golton said: “The railway is a critical part of the UK’s infrastructure and, even though many people are remaining at home due to the latest Government advice, we will be relied upon to continue to help key workers in other sectors get to work so they can provide services critical to the day-to-day running of the country.

“Our responsibility is to run a service that can be relied upon at this time. We are taking sensible measures to make sure we are able to do so.”