Train services between Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, and Coventry have been suspended indefinitely due to Covid staff shortages.
West Midlands Railway (WMR) confirmed that a replacement bus service will be in operation in Warwickshire, and that the situation is under “close review”.
It said that the pandemic has had “a significant impact on our workforce”, and that “more of our colleagues [are] having to self-isolate”.
Covid issues have impacted the wider rail network over Christmas. In the week before Christmas, 5.2% of trains were cancelled due to staff shortages.
A statement released by the travel company on 22 December read: “WMR has today confirmed the temporary suspension of train services between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa due to an increase in staff absences linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In these circumstances, we have no choice but to temporarily suspend the train service until further notice
– Jonny Wiseman, WMR customer experience director
“In recent weeks, WMR has seen a sharp increase in the number of colleagues off work due to either testing positive for
Covid-19, or being required to self-isolate, leading to a rise in the number of short-notice cancellations due to a shortage of available train crew.
“Rail replacement buses will be in operation on the route between the Warwickshire towns from Monday 27 December until further notice while the operator keeps staffing levels under close review.”
Jonny Wiseman, WMR Customer Experience Director, added: “The significant increase in Covid-19 cases among our staff
comes on top of existing train crew shortages caused by delays to our driver training programme during the pandemic. In these circumstances, we have no choice but to temporarily suspend the train service until further notice.
“I apologise to customers for the inconvenience, and thank them for their patience and understanding. We are keeping the situation under close review, and it remains our intention to reinstate the full timetable on this line as soon as possible.”
WMR is also facing difficulties recruiting and training new drivers due to the pandemic and social distancing constraints, problems that it previously anticipated would last until summer 2022.