MP Harriett Baldwin has criticised a troubled rail franchise operator after abandoning a train service for county key workers.

Worcester News reported yesterday that West Midlands Trains decided to cancel the Hereford to Worcester train with just three days notice to protect other services in its franchise.

A continued shortage of drivers means that the service connecting Malvern and Worcester will stop completely on Monday.

West Worcestershire MP Mrs Baldwin commented: “I was disappointed at the short notice of this decision and I am keen to hear the thinking behind it as well as the evidence base it has used to close our commuter line completely.

“The company has a track record of treating our rail commuters as second-class customers and I want to see the clear rationale underpinning this business decision.

“At a time when we need key workers, and especially NHS and social care staff, to be at work, I would be alarmed to think that they can’t get to work because their train has been taken away.

“I am pleased that the Government has stepped in to support the bus operators and I hope that the local bus company will be able to protect their commuter routes between Malvern and Worcester and keep our key workers mobile and able to work.”

Jonny Wiseman, head of customer experience for West Midlands Railway, said: “I apologise to our customers that due to the impact of coronavirus we have had to withdraw train services from some of our stations. We will operate a road replacement service between Hereford and Worcester.

“Train drivers and guards are not immune from Covid-19 and with increasing numbers of railway workers going into self-isolation we have faced tough, fast-paced decisions in building a robust new timetable to keep as many key workers moving as we can.

“It has simply not been possible to maintain a service at every one of the 149 stations served by West Midlands Trains but I again apologise to any key workers whose journey may be affected.”

The Government has put up £397 million commitment to help protect vital commuter routes.

The package will keep key routes running to provide a lifeline for those who cannot work from home including those travelling to jobs on the frontline of the UK’s fight against COVID-19.