Timetables will be scaled back from Monday in a joint move by the Department for Transport (DfT) and rail operators as people avoid non-essential travel and social contact to slow the spread of Covid-19. It comes after demand plummeted by up to 69 percent on some routes.
Core trains will run to allow key workers to travel and freight services will continue.
The move will help protect the welfare of frontline railway staff, the DfT said.
The timetable changes will be kept under review and services will be progressively cut back over the coming days to minimise disruption.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the action was being taken to "protect the public" while still "ensuring key worker heroes can get to their jobs to keep this nation running".
UK rail services will be reduced from next week as demand plummets amid the coronavirus outbreak (Image: PA)
He added: "For passengers in crucial roles, including essential workers in our emergency services and NHS, alongside people who need to attend medical appointments or care for loved ones, these changes protect the services they rely on.”
It follows speculation that a number of train operators could be temporarily nationalised to help them through the coronavirus crisis.
Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said the measures would "preserve services so that we can continue to get key workers to where they need to be, deliver food to supermarkets and get fuel to power stations".
He added: "This is not a decision we take lightly, however implementing these measures now will mean that we can continue to operate trains over a prolonged period with fewer railway workers, who like so many others are to be commended for putting the needs of the country first, and whose safety remains front of mind."
Passengers are advised to check the National Rail website before they travel.
Similar measures have been agreed by the the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
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Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Constructive dialogue has been held with rail unions with discussion focused on protecting rail staff while they make a significant contribution to keeping passengers and goods moving as much as possible in these challenging circumstances."
Ken Skates, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, said: "This action aims to balance the current significantly reduced levels of passenger demand as people follow the guidelines to socially isolate with the need to reduce the number of people required to run the network."
Meanwhile, Transport for London is closing up to 40 Tube stations until further notice due to coronavirus, which has spread faster in the capital than anywhere else in the country.
It comes as tens of thousands of people in the UK are feared to be infected with the virus.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference yesterday, Boris Johnson said he expects the tide can be turned in the next 12 weeks in the battle against the disease.
The Prime Minister said is "absolutely confident that we can send coronavirus packing in this country”.
But he suggested this is only if the public heeds the social distancing guidelines, adding: "I know it's tough, I know it's difficult... but please, please follow the advice."
Meanwhile, the Queen issued a message to the nation which said the UK is "entering a period of great concern and uncertainty".
She added that "our nation's history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one".
It comes as the death toll reached 144 in the UK as of 1pm on Thursday.