TRAINS are being cancelled at short notice as rail companies face staff shortages because of coronavirus.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) announced today that it would be running a reduced service as a result of the continued impact of the illness.

The company operates Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services.

The announcement came after Southern warned it is “currently having to cancel trains at short notice owing to staff members requiring to stay at home unwell or self-isolate”.

Steve White, chief operating officer at GTR, said: “This is an unprecedented situation for everyone and we – together with the rest of the rail industry – are doing our utmost to keep an essential service running for key workers who are doing such vital jobs.

“The message from the Government is clear – travel only if you have to.

“The changes we are making should allow us to sustain a timetable for those who absolutely have to travel such as doctors, nurses and the emergency services.

“We want to thank them and our own staff, who are working so hard to keep trains running.”

The gradual reduction in services will begin on Monday.

The amended timetables, which are adapted versions of ‘base’ timetables that GTR already operates, will include services to suit key workers travelling in the peak as well as working early and late shifts.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “This is not a decision we take lightly, however implementing these measures now will mean that we can continue to operate trains over a prolonged period with fewer railway workers, who like so many others are to be commended for putting the needs of the country first, and whose safety remains front of mind.”