Rishi Sunak delivers the Spending Review

UK railway news round-up

New rules, more tiers and the end of another lockdown is causing a lot of confusion for people across the UK wanting to travel home for Christmas. Here’s the latest:

Treasury announce extra £2.1bn to keep train services running

Rishi Sunak delivers the Spending Review
Photo: PA Media

A further £2.1 billion of taxpayers’ money has been allocated to covering private train company losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Treasury announced the figure as part of its Department for Transport funding in Wednesday’s Spending Review.

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The economic emergency caused by coronavirus has only just begun and there will be “lasting damage” to the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said as he set out his Spending Review. Official forecasts showed the UK economy was expected to shrink by 11.3% this year, the worst recession for more than 300 years. Click here to find out more.

‘Surge’ in travel expected as families form Christmas bubbles

A “surge” in rail travel is expected over the five-day Christmas period as families form their festive bubbles with loved ones.

The UK Government and devolved administrations have agreed a temporary easing of coronavirus restrictions, which will allow three households to mix in a bubble from December 23 to 27.

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Trains, roads and coaches are expected to be busier as many people look to make the most of the opportunity to spend Christmas with family and friends. Click here to see more.

Transport Secretary urges people to consider avoiding Christmas travel

Crowded Kings Cross station in London

People should consider not travelling by train at Christmas due to the rail network’s “limitations”, Transport Secretary Grants Shapps has said.

The Westminster Government and the devolved administrations are expected to announce later this week how coronavirus restrictions will be eased to allow people across the UK to spend the festive period together.

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But with major engineering work across Britain’s railways and capacity constraints to enable social distancing, Mr Shapps urged people to “look very carefully at the transport route they take” when planning Christmas trips.

He told BBC Breakfast: “We have got to understand there are limitations to the (rail) network caused by, for example, things like the need on some trains to pre-book tickets at this time, in order to prevent overcrowding.

“So we are going to be appealing to people to look very carefully at the transport route they take and of course even making a choice about whether they travel at all.

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“It is the reality of the situation we’re in; we will try to do everything we can with the network to make it as good as possible, but I think it is worth people being aware that busy times of travel is a problem.” Click here to see more.

Students to avoid journey change fees this Christmas

Students returning home for Christmas

Students who had already booked train tickets to travel home for Christmas before the announcement of the student travel window can now rebook their tickets without paying additional fees.

Students who bought an Advance ticket before November 11 for a date of travel after December 9 can now change their Advance tickets to travel during the window without paying a change of journey fee of up to £10.

Flexible tickets such as Off Peak or Anytime can already be rebooked to another date without payment of an admin fee. The window from December 3 to 9, coinciding with the end of the winter term, ensures that students can return home once the national lockdown restrictions have been lifted whilst minimising the risk of transmission of the virus to others. Click here to find out more.

Eurostar is ‘fighting for survival’ amid calls for government support

Eurostar train
Photo: Eurostar

Eurostar has warned it is “fighting for its survival” as it called for more financial support from the Government.

The cross-Channel rail operator claimed it is being treated unfairly after the aviation sector was given extra assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Government announced it will cover up to £8 million of business rates liabilities at each major English airport. Click here to see more.

Network Rail fined £10,000 for allowing trains on storm-damaged viaduct

Network Rail has been fined £10,000 for allowing trains to travel at more than 100mph over a storm-damaged viaduct on the West Coast Main Line.

The Government-owned transport body responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure was handed the punishment at Lanark Sheriff Court on November 18, rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said. Find out what happened here.

More projects to reverse Beeching rail cuts given funding

Fifteen more proposals to reverse historical reductions in the rail network – known as the Beeching cuts – have secured development funding.

Boris Johnson pledged to “restore many of the rail services lost in the Beeching cuts”.

The Government has previously allocated £500 million towards accessing the feasibility of reopening closed lines and stations. See more here.

Pendennis return moves closer as boiler and frames are reunited

The return to service of GWR Castle, 4079 “Pendennis Castle”, passed another major milestone in mid-November as the boiler was reunited with the frames following a successful steam test.

The 1925-built icon has been the subject of a thorough restoration by the Great Western Society since it was repatriated from Australia in 2000. Work on the boiler has included attention to the stays – the crown stays in particular – seam and foundation ring rivets and a complete re-tube.

The project team completed most of the work on the frames and motion prior to turning their attention to the boiler to minimise the chance of delays using up valuable time on the boiler ticket. Click here to see more.

Latest service updates

Latest National Rail service updates

CrossCountry – Buses replace trains between Newport and Bristol Parkway due to ongoing engineering work.
Gatwick Express – Gatwick Express services suspended until further notice.
Grand Central – Grand Central service suspended until the end of Wednesday 2 December.
Great Western Railway – Buses replace trains between Newport and Bristol Parkway due to ongoing engineering work.
Hull Trains – Hull Trains service suspended until Wednesday 2 December.

Transport For London Status

The Government is asking everyone to help control the spread of coronavirus by trying to reduce journeys during this new period of national restrictions. If you need to travel, for example to work, for education or other legally permitted reasons, then you can, but you should walk or cycle where possible. Please plan ahead and if possible travel during quiet times.

We will continue to run as much of the network as possible and will update our website with any service changes. Please check before you travel.

We’re doing all we can to make sure those who need to travel can continue to use public transport safely and everyone must continue to take the simple steps of good hand hygiene, wearing a face covering in stations and for your whole journey, and social distancing wherever possible.

London Underground Status

Due to Crossrail works the following services will be affected. Please check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

District Line – From Saturday 28 until Sunday 29 November, there will be no service between Tower Hill and Upminster. Use local bus or replacement bus services.

Rail replacement bus DL6 will run between Tower Hill and Barking, DL7 between Canning Town and Dagenham East and DL8 between Barking and Upminster.

Hammersmith & City line – From Saturday 28 until Sunday 29 November, there will be no service between Hammersmith and Barking. Use alternative Tube, local or replacement bus services. 

Northern line – From Saturday 28 until Sunday 29 November, there will be no service between Charing Cross and Kennington, and no Northern line services will stop at Kennington. Use alternative Tube or local bus services. 

No Night Tube or London Overground Night Service and limited Night Bus services are running.

See the latest status updates on London Underground, including a map of closures.  

London Overground

Due to engineering work the following services will be affected.

From Saturday 28 until Sunday 29 November, there will be no service between:

  • Highbury & Islington and Shadwell. Rail replacement bus service X will run between Dalston Kingsland and Shadwell
  • Surrey Quays and New Cross. Use London Overground services to New Cross Gate and then walk or use local bus routes 53, 177 or 453 On Sunday 29 November, there will be no service between: • Watford Junction and Euston. Use alternative Tube, local bus or rail replacement bus services
  • Liverpool Street and Chingford until 10:15. Use alternative Tube, local bus or rail replacement bus service L3
  • Liverpool Street and Enfield Town until 10:15. Use alternative Tube, local bus or rail replacement bus service L1
  • Liverpool Street and Cheshunt, via Seven Sisters, until 10:15. Use alternative Tube, local bus or rail replacement bus service L2 or use Greater Anglia services From Monday 30 November until Thursday 3 December, there will be no service between: • Highbury & Islington and West Croydon after 22:30. All services from Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace after 22:30 will terminate at New Cross Gate. Rail replacement buses will run between New Cross Gate and West Croydon via Crystal Palace
  • Hackney Downs and Enfield Town after 22:45. Use alternative Tube, local bus or rail replacement bus service L1
  • Hackney Downs and Cheshunt, via Seven Sisters, after 22:45. Use alternative Tube, local bus or rail replacement bus service L2 or use Greater Anglia services No Night Tube or London Overground Night Service and limited Night Bus services are running. Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

DLR

Due to track work the following DLR services will be affected.

From Saturday 28 until Sunday 29 November, there will be no service between:

• Westferry and Poplar and Island Gardens. Use Southeastern Railways services between Greenwich and Cannon Street, and between Lewisham and Charing Cross rail replacement bus service A.

Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Rivers

Until Wednesday 2 December, all London River Services will be suspended including the closure of all TfL pier locations. Please check for alternative routes.

The Woolwich Ferry services will continue to run, please plan ahead and check before you travel.

TfL Rail

Due to track work the following services will be affected.

From Saturday 28 until Sunday 29 November, the following services will be affected:

  • There will be a reduced service between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington after 21:00 on Saturday 28 November, until 12:50 on Sunday 29 November
  • On Saturday no service will stop at Acton Main Line after 20:30. Use local bus services
  • On Sunday no service will stop at Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Hanwell until 13:00. Use local bus services Check before you travel and plan your journey ahead of time.

Metros around the country

West Midlands Metro

There are no new service information updates.

Tyne & Wear Metro

Some services are cancelled due to driver availability. Please leave extra time for your journey. Sorry for the inconvenience caused. Details of affected journeys can be found here.

To keep safe, plan your journey in advance, avoid travelling at busier times if you can, wear a face covering unless exempt, stay apart from others and wash your hands frequently.

For more timetable information visit nexus.org.uk

Manchester Metrolink

National coronavirus restrictions, 5 November–2 December: Stay at home and avoid travel, except for work, education, or other legally permitted reasons.

Nottingham Express Transit

Following the latest government announcement, we want to reassure customers that still need to travel with us during lockdown that we will be operating a full service during this time.

Merseyrail

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, services are now operating between 07:00 and 19:00 Monday to Saturday.

This was based on staff availability to provide a reliable service to key workers and those making essential journeys.

Sunday services will still operate between 08:00 and 20:00.

Sheffield Super Tram

Due to the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic we are having to make short notice changes to our services, with effect from Saturday 7 November.

All routes will operate to the current timetables but services will end at around 8pm every day. There will be no service on any routes after around 8pm.

The current frequencies of service are unchanged;

YELLOW & BLUE: Up to every 15 minutes during the day, every 20 minutes at other times and on Sunday

PURPLE: Every 30 minutes

TRAM TRAIN: Every hour

Please be aware that due to the short notice of these changes, timetables on tram stops may be incorrect until updated information can be posted. Additionally, some journey planning tools and websites may also offer incorrect journey information.

Edinburgh Trams

The first tram and last tram will run at their usual time, but customers should expect trams to operate every 15 minutes during the day with this being kept under constant review.

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...