Impacts of the nationwide driver shortage are now spilling through from local bus operations to rail replacement services. In recent weeks, there have been several instances of engineering works not being bridged by the usually lucrative replacement bus service, with affected areas range from north east England to the south coast. Many have been announced at less than 24 hours notice before the services were supposed to have run. Northern was unable to source any buses to provide weekend services between Hull and Doncaster, nor between Saltburn, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, advising that passengers “do not travel” instead.
First-owned GWR could not find a full complement to run between Reading and Guildford, and in the same area South Western Railway had long gaps in provision between Basingstoke, Woking and Weybridge over multiple weekends. South Eastern has been unable to provide buses for several line closures in the London area, and now faces the same problem in Kent, where during a recent weekend rail closure “our bus suppliers have advised us they are unable to provide enough vehicles and drivers for the replacement bus service between Sittingbourne, Canterbury East and Dover Priory.”