THE reduction of train services across the UK - including Cumbria - has been deemed the ‘best compromise’ after the outbreak of coronavirus.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it had agreed with rail operators across the country to scale back timetables from Monday as people change their travel habits to help stop COVID-19 from spreading.

Tim Owen, chair of the community rail partnership, said: “They are trying to downsize the service in order to keep things moving.

“As at this moment in time it is essential travel only but people still need the trains to get to work.

“This is the sensible approach we need in an economic shutdown as we need to stop the spread of the virus.

“This is the best compromise providing it meets core requirements of the service.

“There is pressure on the train companies as well because there are less people using the train but less staff as well due to self isolation.”

Core services will continue to run to help people attend medical appointments and allow emergency services and NHS staff get to work.

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the public’s travel patterns has seen demand for rail travel decline by up to 69 per cent on some routes, the Department for Transport said.

The joint move from the Government and rail industry will also enable freight services to continue. It follows speculation in the industry that a number of train operators are on the verge of being brought under government control. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested to MPs on Tuesday that rail companies, as well as bus firms and airlines, could be temporarily nationalised to help them through the coronavirus outbreak.