Grant Shapps sounds note of caution over festive rail travel

PEOPLE who want to take advantage of the eased Covid restrictions over Christmas are being urged to think carefully before choosing to travel by train.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has sounded a cautionary note in a BBC interview, mentioning major engineering work, a possible shortage of rail staff because of Covid and compulsory booking arrangements on some routes which are intended to ‘manage people and prevent overcrowding’.

The pandemic restrictions are expected to be partially lifted from 24 to 28 December, but as usual there will be no trains on Christmas Day and very few on Boxing Day.

Mr Shapps said: ‘It is the case that quite a number of railway workers, for example, are off work with coronavirus and that does mean that there is some pressure on services and some limitations. I also would appeal to people to look very carefully at their Christmas travel plans even when we do announce this brief relaxation because it may well be the case very, very long-planned engineering works are scheduled. Now we’ll try and minimise those as much as possible, but a lot of them take 18 months or two years to plan.

‘The other big consideration is: in order to try to manage people and prevent overcrowding, a number of rail lines are actually ticket-only booking for the period. So I would appeal to people to think very carefully about their travel plans and consider where they can travel and look at the various alternatives.’