<p>Thameslink has cut some of its services</p>

Thameslink has cut some of its services

UK trains hit by cancellations due to ‘pingdemic’

Thameslink and Southern cut scheduled services

Helen Coffey
Monday 26 July 2021 13:20

Trains in the UK are being hit by the so-called “pingdemic” as operators are forced to cut services due to staff shortages.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are being told to self-isolate after potentially coming into contact with positive coronavirus cases, including those working in the transport industry.

Some train companies have cut scheduled services in response.

Weekday services have been reduced on five routes across the Thameslink and Southern network “until further notice”, while London Northwestern Railway has also introduced a reduced timetable in order to cope.

Avanti West Coast has said it will “manage staff shortages and ensure a reliable service” by cutting the frequency of trains between London Euston and Manchester, Birmingham and North Wales.

In London, the Circle and Hammersmith and City tube lines had to close over the weekend after more than 300 members of Transport for London staff were told to self-isolate.

It follows reports of long queues at Heathrow a fortnight ago due to swathes of airport staff being “pinged” and told to self-isolate.

Passengers spoke of “total chaos” at Terminal 5 on Monday 12 July as a result of a staff shortage.

Social media was flooded with images of the disruption, all showing snaking queues for check-in desks and security.

One passenger said he estimated there were “more than a thousand” people trying to get through security at one point.

A Heathrow spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that the “congestion” in the departures area was due to staff members being told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

They added: “We have activated additional team members to assist passengers with their journeys and the operation has now returned to normal. We apologise to our passengers for any inconvenience caused.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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