‘Do not travel’ warning on six Northern rail routes on New Year’s Eve due to staff shortage

Staff shortage on the railways has become so extreme that a leading train operator is warning passengers it will not be able to run trains on six of its routes on New Year’s Eve.

Northern Trains, which is government-owned and run, has issued a Do Not Travel notice for 31 December on links from Manchester Victoria to Chester and Stalybridge, and from Manchester Piccadilly to Chester via Altrincham.

Passengers are also warned no trains will run on routes connecting Preston with Colne, Bolton with Clitheroe and Lancaster with Morecambe on the last day of the year.

The rail firm is telling passengers: “We will be operating a reduced service across the northwest due to train crew unavailability.”

Northern Trains staff who are based west of the Pennines are not compelled to work on Sundays, and so services on New Year’s Eve – as on any other Sunday – rely upon overtime.

In one of the more eccentric examples of arcane working agreements among train operators, workers whose depots are to the east of the range of hills are required to work on Sundays when rostered.

The rail firm is telling passengers hoping to travel on other northwest England routes on New Year’s Eve: “As a result of fewer services we expect trains to be extremely busy.

“Services are finishing earlier than usual, at around 4pm.”

Passengers who have tickets for travel on 31 December can use them on Friday or Saturday instead.

Staff shortage is affecting other operators. On Friday, LNER has cancelled 10 intercity services due to train crew shortages. Several other trains are curtailed – running only for part of their intended route – for the same reason.

Passengers face many other problems on the East Coast main line. There are delays north of York caused by “severe weather”, speed restrictions due to high winds and a signal failure in Northumberland.

An LNER train from Leeds to London has been cancelled due to “more trains than usual needing repairs at the same time”.

At London Euston, both Avanti West Coast and London North Western Railway have cancelled some trains on the West Coast main line due to staff shortage.

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