WORCESTER residents travelling to Birmingham Snow Hill train station will be hit with delays from next week, as West Midlands Railway announce temporary changes due to staff shortages.

Due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on staff resource, the train operator said they will be introducing a temporarily reduced timetable on the Snow Hill lines from Monday 2 August.

Trains will be affected along the route from Kidderminster through Stourbridge and the Black Country to Snow Hill and Warwickshire. West Midlands Railway said the temporary changes to its timetables are necessary "as Covid-19 has had a major impact on the ability to get new drivers trained to operate services".

The train operator said: "Covid-19 has impacted our training program for the 100 additional drivers we recruited before the pandemic started. This combined with the recent impact of test & trace on our staff resource has led to an increase in on the day cancellations. The above temporary changes should help us to run a more reliable timetable".

Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director, said: "Before the pandemic we had recruited extra drivers but Covid restrictions have impacted our training plans with over 25,000 lost training days. No-one wants to see trains being cancelled, particularly at short notice. We are sorry we have had to make the decision to alter some services. However, the changes will help us run a more reliable and consistent timetable for passengers across our network".

The changes will mean that between 10.00am to 6.00pm, the hourly departure from Kidderminster at 15 minutes past each hour will no longer run. In the opposite direction, the departures at one minute past or three minutes past the hour from Stratford-upon-Avon will no longer run. Some other services, or parts of some services, will also be cancelled with rail replacement transport provided.

Since July, the train company has seen the number of staff having to self-isolate quadruple. This has resulted in trains being cancelled at short notice and some services having fewer carriages as the 'pingdemic' affects train maintenance depots.

The changes will affect thousands of passengers across Worcestershire, the Black Country, Birmingham and Solihull using the route's 28 stations.