TRAIN services on some of the country’s busiest routes faced fresh disruption today because of a shortage of drivers, causing travel chaos for thousands of passengers.
First Capital Connect (FCC) cancelled 28 trains affecting London King’s Cross and Moorgate, Cambridge, Peterborough, Ely and Welwyn Garden City on its Great Northern route.
The firm has been running an emergency timetable this month on its Thameslink route between Bedford and Brighton because of staff shortages.
Unions insist workers are not taking industrial action but are merely exercising their contractual right not to work overtime.
FCC, which relies on overtime working to run its full service, said it was "extremely sorry" that the shortage of train drivers had forced the company to introduce a revised timetable on the Thameslink route between Bedford, Luton, central London, Sutton, Wimbledon and Brighton.
"We have introduced this timetable to allow us to operate as consistent a service as possible over the coming days. This timetable will operate on Mondays to Fridays until further notice. We will endeavour to operate a normal service on Saturdays and Sundays," said FCC in a statement.
The Great Northern route was hit by cancellations on a Sunday earlier this month because of driver shortages but has not been affected on weekdays before today.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said: "It is down to the company to ensure adequate staffing resources and with two and a half million unemployed, why are train services being run on what is effectively compulsory overtime?
"FCC needs to start talking seriously with the trade unions about the issues at the heart of the continuing service failure."