A MAJOR train operator has been forced to introduce a temporary timetable due to staff shortages and Covid absences.

From Monday January 17, South Western Railway (SWR) will follow a thinner schedule to prevent any last-minute cancellations.

The operator says that, with current guidance to work from home, this timetable will "sufficiently meet current demand".

These temporary timetable changes will remain under review going forward.

Managing director Claire Mann said: "The spread of the Omicron variant has had a significant impact on our railway, with fewer people using the train and staff shortages impacting on our ability to consistently deliver the current timetable.

“Having assessed demand and spoken to our industry colleagues, we believe this new timetable is the most effective means of ensuring our customers receive a reliable service, with short-notice cancellations minimised.

“Journey planners will be updated on a week-by-week basis, with updates taking place towards the end of each week. Customers should check their journey as close to their time of travel as possible.”

Core timetables are available through the SWR website, with journey planners set to be updated on a week-by-week basis.

Updates will take place towards the end of each week, so customers are advised to check before they travel.