Thameslink class 700 at Charlton
Thameslink will not be running on the Greenwich line next week

Thameslink has cancelled all its services on the Greenwich line for the first week of 2022 because of staff shortages caused by the latest wave of coronavirus.

The company’s twice-hourly Luton to Rainham service has been scrapped between January 4-7, with trains only running between Dartford and Rainham, disrupting journeys to north Kent as well as to Blackfriars, St Pancras and north London.

“The changes are being made in response to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which has led to significantly increased staff sickness in recent weeks, as seen right across the rail industry,” the company said. “A reduced timetable will help ensure a more reliable service and less last-minute cancellations.”

Services are already being severely affected by cuts made to accommodate engineering works, with no Thameslink trains on the Greenwich line today and a mere hourly service over the New Year holiday weekend – causing disruption to Kent-based fans attending the Charlton Athletic v Wycombe Wanderers fixture this weekend.

Passengers will have to rely on Southeastern services, which are also being affected by works near Lewisham and on the route to Charing Cross, and change at London Bridge or Dartford if they wish to reach a destination usually saved by Thameslink.

Elsewhere in south London, Thameslink’s sister company Southern has scrapped all trains to Victoria and a swathe of services have been suspended, also to cope with the Omicron crisis.

Angie Doll, Govia Thameslink Railway’s interim chief operating officer, said: “Due to the significant challenges we face with Covid now affecting many of our colleagues, we have taken the decision to operate a reduced train timetable from January. We’re really sorry if this does affect your journey.

“While many more people are now working from home again, we’re fully focussed on proving a service that passengers can rely on if they need to travel. We’d strongly urge people to check before they travel for the latest information and to leave extra time.”

Engineering work aside, Southeastern – which was removed from Govia’s control by the government in October – has not announced any timetable changes so far, although that situation could change as more rail staff are laid low by the virus.

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