Passengers reminded to plan ahead as majority of railway open for business as usual this Christmas

Photo: Network Rail

Passengers are being reminded that the vast majority of Britain’s rail network (over 95%) will be open for business as usual over Christmas and New Year, helping them visit friends and family over the festive period.

Network Rail is working closely with train operators to minimise disruption to passengers by carrying out a significant portion of the upgrade work overnight, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when passenger services traditionally don’t run.

Some routes will be affected by 370 key investment projects being delivered, however, so passengers are asked to plan their journeys in advance.

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Passengers are also reminded that they must wear a face-covering in busy indoor settings unless they are exempt. With good ventilation systems on trains, extra cleaning, and additional station staff deployed at locations where events such as Christmas markets are taking place, passengers can continue to travel with confidence.

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Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “While some essential works are taking place over the festive period to upgrade the railway for passengers, we’ve worked hard with train operators to reduce the impact on passengers as far as possible so that they can spend time with their families and friends this Christmas.”

The engineering works taking place over Christmas have been planned months, and in some cases years, in advance. Some of the projects being delivered this Christmas and New Year period include:

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  • Signalling commissioning, track and HS2 works between Paddington and Slough to improve train performance. This means there will be no Heathrow Express trains to London Heathrow Airport on Boxing Day. There will also be no London Underground services to Heathrow. Passengers can use coach services from Hammersmith or Acton Town.
  • Switches and crossings renewals and resignalling works between London Victoria and Streatham Common/Selhurst to improve train performance. Southern services will run to/from London Bridge between 25 December and 3 January, with no Gatwick Express service in operation. Trains to Gatwick will run from London Bridge.
  • Track remodelling, signalling upgrades and work to install new overhead wires at Leeds station as part of a long-term project to bring more reliable journeys for passengers and reduce the impact of delays across the North. A reduced train service will be in place to/from Leeds between 27 December and 3 January, with some bus replacement services in operation. There will be very limited train services on 2 January.
  • Northern City Line tunnel works to improve reliability and safety that will affect services between King’s Cross and Finsbury Park. No services will operate between 25-26 December. Services between Moorgate and Finsbury Park will divert into King’s Cross from 27-29 December as work continues to upgrade the track and signalling as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.
  • Major work to upgrade the track and install new signalling equipment in Manchester in the latest stage of the Transpennine Route Upgrade. There will be changes to services on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 December, as well as from Saturday 1 to Monday 3 January 2022.
  • Track upgrades will take place between St Pancras International and Kentish Town to bring smoother, more reliable journeys for passengers. Reduced EMR and Thameslink services will run between 27 December – 4 January.
  • Switches and crossings and plain line track renewals at Bristol Parkway to improve passenger safety. CrossCountry services will not call at Bristol Parkway between 27-31 December, while some GWR services to/from Bristol Temple Meads will also be impacted.

Passengers can find out how their journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter.

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Shannon Butcher