UK railway news roundup


This week’s roundup of news from the UK railway industry.

Public transport usage ‘won’t be the same’ after lockdown

Rail passenger numbers have been even harder hit, currently standing at just 21% of normal following a recovery to 43% in September last year.

Demand for public transport will recover as lockdown restrictions ease but travel patterns will be permanently changed, industry leaders predict.

Rail passenger numbers have been hit, currently standing at just 21% of normal following a recovery to 43% in September last year.

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Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy said last month that train timetables should not return in full even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, due to improved reliability.

The industry estimates that demand for commuter journeys may only return to as little as 60% of what it was before the crisis, due to the rise in people working from home.

Transport for London agrees bailout extension

TfL bailout

Transport for London (TfL) has accepted the Government’s offer to extend its bailout by seven weeks, despite calling for a long-term deal.

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This agreement secures the continuation of public transport in the capital until May 18.

The collapse in passenger numbers during the coronavirus pandemic has decimated TfL’s finances, leading it to require Government funding to keep services running.

HS2 protests contribute to £800m fresh ‘cost pressures’

HS2: Grant Shapps says project is critical
Photo: PA

Anti-HS2 protests and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the project facing new “cost pressures” of £800 million, the Government has announced.

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It took an expensive month-long operation to remove activists from a network of tunnels discovered on January 26 in London’s Euston Square Gardens.

The virus crisis has also had a financial impact on the high-speed rail scheme due to access delays and reduced productivity.

Duchess of Cornwall backs Rail to Refuge scheme extension

Rail to Refuge extension

The Duchess of Cornwall has expressed her support for the extension of the Rail to Refuge scheme, which offers free train travel for people fleeing abusive relationships.

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In a video message, the duchess warned how lockdown has been life-threatening for survivors of domestic violence. She has long campaigned against domestic abuse, urging those who need help to contact Women’s Aid for support and access to the initiative.

She said in the message: “Lockdown has been hard for everyone, but for the survivors of domestic abuse, it has been life-threatening.

MPs call for rolling programme of rail electrification projects

A 30-year rolling programme of rail electrification projects is vital for the industry to cut its carbon emissions, according to MPs.

The Commons’ Transport Select Committee (TSC) called on the Government to take action “as soon as possible” to help the UK bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Electrification is the “only immediately viable decarbonisation option for most of the network”, a report published by the committee stated.

Debut journey for West Coast Main Line ‘jumbo’ freight train

The heaviest freight train ever to run on the West Coast main line has made its debut journey from the Peak District to London with essential construction materials.

The so-called ‘jumbo service’  hauled 3,600 tonnes of aggregate on March 17 from Tarmac’s Tunstead quarry in Derbyshire to Wembley Yard in London.

It saw two Freightliner trains coupling together with a combined total length of 590 metres and consisting of 39 wagons.

Dartmoor Line services to return for first time in half a century

Dartmoor Line pre-1960

Regular passenger services will return on a largely disused Dartmoor Line later this year as part of Government plans to reverse the Beeching cuts.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said trains will run every two hours on the Dartmoor Line between Exeter and Okehampton, Devon, all year round by the end of 2021, increasing to an hourly service towards the end of 2022.

Regular services were withdrawn in 1972, and the line has only been open during the summer since 1997.

Latest service updates

CrossCountry – Train services are now able to run normally between Bristol Parkway and Newport.
Gatwick Express – Gatwick Express services remain suspended until further notice. Southern and Thameslink are still running to and from Gatwick Airport, and will provide journey options to both London and Brighton.
Grand Central – Following the Government decision to impose a national lockdown on 4 January 2021 and a national “Do Not Travel” recommendation, Grand Central have taken the decision to suspend their services until the end of Friday 26 March. You can find more information here.

Great Western Railway – The railway line has now reopened between Bristol Parkway and Newport following an engineering problem that occurred earlier this month on a bridge near Patchway.
Hull Trains – The latest timetable can be downloaded here

Transport For London Status

To help stop the potential spread of coronavirus, the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments have decided that the wearing of face coverings when travelling by train or other public transport is compulsory in all parts of Britain. So, if you travel by train, make sure you bring a face covering to wear.

We will continue to run as much of the network as possible and will update our website with any service changes. Please check before you travel.

We’re doing all we can to make sure those who need to travel can continue to use public transport safely and everyone must continue to take the simple steps of good hand hygiene, wearing a face covering in stations and for your whole journey, and social distancing wherever possible.

London Underground Status

Due to Crossrail works the following services will be affected. Please check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Hammersmith and City Line: Minor delays due to train cancellations.

Waterloo & City Line: No service until further notice.

See the latest status updates on London Underground, including a map of closures.  

London Overground

No service between Romford and Upminster while we fix a faulty train at Romford. London Overground tickets are being accepted on London Underground via any reasonable route.

Until Tuesday 6 April, late evening weekday trains at 2303 2333 and 0048 from Liverpool Street to Chingford will not run due to staff shortage.

Until Friday 14 May, we will temporarily be running a reduced service during peak times on weekday London Overground services to and from Bush Hill Park and Enfield Town. There will now be two trains per hour throughout the day in place of the standard four trains per hour peak service. The following trains will not run: Liverpool Street to Enfield Town at 06:45, 07:15, 07:45, 08:07, 08:45, 16:15, 16:45, 17:15, 17:45, 18:15 and 19:22. Enfield Town to Liverpool Street at 06:54. 07:24, 07:54, 08:24, 08:54, 09:24, 17:07, 17:37, 18:07, 18:37 and 19:07. In addition, trains at 08:00 from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt and at 08:43 from Cheshunt to Liverpool Street will not run. This is due to a shortage of staff.

Until Friday 14 May, a reduced weekday service operates between Richmond and Stratford. Two trains operate per hour between Richmond and Willesden Junction, continuing to Stratford. Six trains operate per hour between Willesden Junction and Stratford, with four of these trains an hour operating to/from Clapham Junction.

Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Metros around the country

Tyne & Wear Metro

National lockdown: Stay at home. Only use public transport for essential purposes. Avoid travelling at busier times if you can, wear a face covering (unless exempt), open train windows to help with ventilation, stay apart from others and wash or sanitise your hands frequently.

For more timetable information visit

Manchester Metrolink

Stay at home and avoid travel, except for work, education, or other legally permitted reasons.

Nottingham Express Transit

Following the latest government announcement, we want to reassure customers that still need to travel with us during lockdown that we will be operating a full service during this time.


We are currently working towards reintroducing passenger services on a line-by-line basis this morning with the aim of running our timetabled service from approximately midday. Services may be subject to delay and passengers are advised to continue checking @merseyrail on Twitter and the website before they travel.

Sheffield Super Tram

Due to the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic we are having to make short notice changes to our services.

All routes will operate to the current timetables but services will end at around 8pm every day. There will be no service on any routes after around 8pm.

The current frequencies of service are unchanged;

YELLOW & BLUE: Up to every 15 minutes during the day, every 20 minutes at other times and on Sunday

PURPLE: Every 30 minutes

TRAM TRAIN: Every hour

Please be aware that due to the short notice of these changes, timetables on tram stops may be incorrect until updated information can be posted. Additionally, some journey planning tools and websites may also offer incorrect journey information.

Edinburgh Trams

The first tram and last tram will run at their usual time, but customers should expect trams to operate every 15 minutes during the day with this being kept under constant review.

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