Hourly direct trains from Gillingham to London Waterloo are to resume later this month as the Covid pandemic eases, South Western Railway has announced.
The train operator said it will be introducing a new timetable from Monday 21 February that will see train services return to pre-Omicron levels.
The move comes as improving staff availability means that SWR can increase the number of trains it runs without, it says, compromising reliability for customers.
It also coincides with more people returning to the railway following the government’s work from home instruction being lifted.
The timetable will be almost identical to the one that served customers in December 2021, meaning that a whole host of services – including through trains to and from Exeter St Davids and Weymouth and a more frequent service on the Shepperton line – will be reinstated.
Earlier this year, SWR was forced to introduce a temporary timetable in response to staff absences caused by the spread of Omicron. This timetable has ensured reliability for customers during a challenging period, with SWR adding additional services as staff availability improved.
Details of both the new proposed service and the existing service levels up until the changes can be found at: www.southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/timetables.
SWR managing director Claire Mann said: ‘It has been a difficult period for our railway and the customers it serves, with significant staff shortages giving us no choice but to temporarily reduce our timetable last month.
‘With staff availability now consistently improving, we are pleased to be able to announce this uplift, which will essentially see service levels return to where they were prior to the spread of Omicron.
‘More and more people are returning to our railway, and this timetable will ensure that we match capacity and demand while delivering reliability for customers.’