RAIL passengers are being asked to check before they travel because Covid-related staff absences may disrupt services in Herefordshire and the Borders from today (Monday, January 3).

TfW had already introduced an emergency rail timetable from December 22, but with staff absences continuing to increase, the firm has further reduce services to ensure it can provide a reliable service throughout this latest stage of the pandemic.

The new timetable equates to a further reduction of 10-15 per cent of the timetable introduced on December 22, with a focus on parts of the rail network suffering from particularly high staff absence. This move is in line with service reductions being introduced by other operators across the whole of the British rail network.

The new timetable will remain in place over the coming weeks and will be reviewed regularly as the rail industry in Wales monitors the impact of the new Omicron variant on staff levels.

All customers are urged to check www.tfw.wales before travelling and follow the up-to-date guidance from the Welsh Government.

Jan Chaudhry-Van de Velde, nanaging director of TfW Rail, said: “We are very much dealing with the Omicron wave of Covid infections and, like many public service organisations, have seen a major rise in colleague absences over the last few weeks.

“It is fundamental we continue to run as reliable a service as possible for our customers and therefore we are introducing a revised timetable from January 3, reducing the risk of late notice cancellations.

“Wherever we can, we’ll use additional carriages made available due to the reduced timetable to run longer trains, which will help with social distancing. We’ll also provide supplementary road transport, where possible."

Customers who have already bought tickets for services affected by the change will be able to use their tickets on alternative TfW rail services. Alternatively, they will be able to request a refund by visiting www.tfw.wales.