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The firm said tighter Covid restrictions and falling passenger numbers had prompted the decision.

It added that it hoped to restart services in March.

All customers whose travel has been cancelled will be contacted and offered a free amendment or full refund, the company said.

All journeys before Monday 11 January will be completed to ensure any passengers making essential journeys are not stranded.

Train services set to be reduced in lockdown

Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express UK Coach, said: “We have been providing an important service for essential travel needs. However, with tighter restrictions and passenger numbers falling, it is no longer appropriate to do this.

He added that as the vaccination programme was rolled out and government guidance changed, the company would regularly review when services could restart.

“We plan to be back on the road as soon as the time is right and have put a provisional restart date of Monday 1 March in place,” he said.

National Express first suspended coach services during the coronavirus crisis in April, then restarted in July.

Services have been operating at half capacity, with strict cleaning and Covid protocols. As the tier structure came into operation, demand for services reduced.

As with the previous suspension, employees will be furloughed.

Firms that transport passengers, including coach, rail and aviation businesses, have been under intense pressure during the coronavirus crisis.

Avanti West Coast, the train operating company running services on the West Coast mainline, has confirmed it will cut its timetable from 18 January.

Avanti says the new timetable will ‘more closely reflect the current demand for our services whilst still allowing key workers, and those needing to make essential journeys, to travel with confidence’.

During the first major lockdown in March, services on key intercity routes were reduced from three an hour to one. This included services from both Manchester and Birmingham to London.

The Department for Transport has been consulting with all train operators about service reductions during the latest lockdown.

The exact scale of reduction is still being worked on, but the DfT says service levels may fall to as low as 40% of the normal timetable by some operators.

The focus is to ensure essential workers can still make essential journeys.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said:

“Following discussions with the Department for Transport we will be introducing a new timetable on Monday 18 January. This will more closely reflect the current demand for our services whilst still allowing key workers, and those needing to make essential journeys, to travel with confidence.”

On Thursday, Ryanair also announced that it would make big cuts to its flight schedule from 21 January, with few, if any flights to or from the UK or Ireland until “draconian travel restrictions are removed”.

Train services are expected to be reduced in lockdown, with some in the industry anticipating reductions of between 50% and 60% compared with normal service.

In the first national lockdown in England, services were reduced to almost half.

Related Topics Coronavirus pandemic National Express Travel Companies

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