March 20, 2020 / 7:54 AM / 22 days ago

Britain's rail network cuts services, Heathrow shrinks

Rail tracks are seen as strikes continue on the Southern rail network, at Clapham Junction in London, Britain, December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s rail network will operate half its normal service during the coronavirus crisis, the government and rail industry body said on Friday, and Heathrow Airport’s operations will shrink as more of the country goes into a partial shutdown.

From Monday, trains will only run on core services, equivalent to about half the passenger trains on a normal weekday, to reflect the drop-off in demand as more and more Britons work from home and stop travelling.

Heathrow Airport, the country’s biggest, also said on Friday that it would partially shut down some operations after coronavirus brought most air travel to a standstill.

Britons have been advised to stay at home as much as they can to prevent the spread of the illness, but have not been told they are unable to leave their homes like people in Italy, Spain and France.

The rail reductions will be gradual, the Department for Transport said, with the remaining services enabling key workers to get to their jobs and to move freight, including vital goods, around the country.

“We are taking decisive action to protect the public which means reducing travel for the time being, whilst still ensuring keyworker heroes can get to their jobs to keep this nation running,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps said in a statement on Friday.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden

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