Pingdemic pain for Northampton and Milton Keynes commuters as staff shortages hit train services

Peak-hour services trimmed as Test and Trace forces crew to quarantine

By Kevin Nicholls
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 7:12 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 7:14 am

Rail commuters from Northampton and Milton Keynes are the latest to feel 'pingdemic' pain.

Train operators London Northwestern Railway will trim four peak hour trains from its London Euston timetable from Monday (July 26) to manage increasing staff shortages.

It has seen the number of crews self-isolating go up by 400 percent after testing positive for Covid-19 or being identified as close contacts of someone with the virus and 'pinged' by NHS Test and Trace.

London Northwestern Railway has seen a 400 percent rise in staff being forced to self-isolate by Test and Trace

That led to short-notice delays and cancellations and frustration among passengers finally returning to workplaces.

Now, bosses hope that temporarily tweaking its weekday schedule will make services more reliable.

Customer Experience director, Lawrence Bowman said; “No one wants to see trains being cancelled, particularly at short notice. But we are experiencing more of this, across all our services, as increasing numbers of staff are getting ‘pinged’ by the app.

"We are sorry that we have had to make the decision to alter some services.

"However, the changes will help us run a more reliable and consistent timetable for passengers across our network.”

London Northwestern's 7.53am Bletchley-to-Euston and 6.24pm Euston-to-Northampton services will both be pulled from the timetables.

Trains will also be replaced by buses on the Marston Vale branch line between Bletchley and Bedford to free-up staff for work on the West Coast Main Line.

Thameslink, which operates trains between Bedford and Brighton via London, has also confirmed it will run a "reduced timetable" from Monday, although it has yet to confirm details.