Reduced train services 'shouldn't be in place a day longer than needed': Grant Shapps

25 January 2022, 09:05

The Transport Secretary has told train providers to return to normal timetables
The Transport Secretary has told train providers to return to normal timetables. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Train providers should return to normal timetables as the Government scraps work from home advice, the Transport Secretary has demanded.

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Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Grant Shapps said train companies have been ordered to return to normal capacity "as soon as possible".

When asked by Nick why 21 out of 28 rail services in the UK are currently still operating reduced or suspended timetables, Shapps replied: "It should just be explained that in the Omicron wave a lot of people were off work and because of that, rather than cancelling trains and creating uncertainty in the train times tables, the services you referred to, went to a reduced service to provide the certainty of that service.

"The numbers have been much smaller in terms of people travelling but people are starting to return and fortunately because we are getting on top of the Omicron wave of course and we've done things like, cut self isolation to five days where people have got negative tests, that is enabling people to comeback.

"I've said to these train companies don't keep these reduced services in place a day longer than you need to in order to provide the certainty of services.

"It is our intention to return all of these services because obviously coronavirus has stopped a lot of people from being able to go into work."

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It comes amid fresh attempts to end the working-from-home culture in Whitehall by ordering employees to get back to their desks after the Prime Minister ended the WFH guidance last Wednesday.

The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons last week that guidance would be dropped immediately and rules on face coverings in classrooms would also be scrapped in England.

On Monday morning, Transport for London said there were 1.06 million entry and exits on the Underground up to 10am - a rise of 6 per cent compared to last Monday and 45 per cent of normal pre-pandemic levels.

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On buses up to 10am on Monday, there were 1.17 million boarding payments - up 1 per cent compared to last Monday and 69 per cent of normal levels.

Lord Stuart Rose, the new chairman of Asda, hailed the decision to scrap working from home guidance in England, telling LBC he could not believe there was a "nation sitting at home" fearful of coronavirus.

One major advertising firm said it would be "fully reopening" its London office whilst insurer Zurich, which employs 4,500 people in the UK, also said it was "excited" to welcome staff back to its offices but that hybrid working would continue.

The British Chambers of Commerce has urged the government to improve access to rapid testing so firms could bring staff back to workplaces with confidence.