Southern has cancelled all trains to and from Victoria Station until mid-January, citing pandemic-related staff shortages as its reason.
No Southern services will call at Victoria, Battersea Park, Clapham Junction or Wandsworth Common until January 10 as the company struggles with a surge in covid cases among rail staff.
Gatwick Express services will be suspended altogether, with trains and crew used to support Southern services.
Victoria is one of the country’s busiest railway stations, seeing millions of commuters arrive and depart central London each week from destinations across south-east England and the south coast.
Southern are advising passengers from East Croydon and stations in the south of the borough to travel to Blackfriars and use the District Line Tube to continue their journeys into the West End.
For Clapham Junction there will be a limited service from West Croydon changing at Balham or to use the Tram to Wimbledon and use SW Railway trains (as long as passengers ensure their ticket is valid on the Tram).
Other services will be reduced and could finish earlier.
The disruption will go well into the second week of the New Year, and seems certain to cause inconvenience to Croydon residents seeking to return to their London workplaces after the Christmas break.
“We know this will be difficult for our customers and we are very sorry,” Southern operators Govia said in a note issued yesterday.
“This change is in response to a significant reduction in traincrew, service planning, controllers and other critical staff availability as the rise in coronavirus cases sees more staff needing to isolate. We understand how disappointing this news is, and our colleagues are working to find the best possible solution.”
Govia claim to be attempting to reduce unexpected cancellations (because expected cancellations into one of London’s biggest terminuses are so much more helpful for passengers, obviously), to “provide greater certainty over which trains will and will not run so customers can plan their journeys”.
They say that closure of Victoria is “the only option available”.
“Many Southern trains will remain on diversion, including to London Bridge,” they say.
And January 10 doesn’t look like being an immediate return to normal service, either. “Services will be progressively reintroduced from Monday January 10,” Govia say.
Train times have been updated at www.nationalrail.co.uk
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