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Rail passengers face 10 days of misery over Christmas due to engineering works

Rail passengers face 10 days of misery over Christmas due to engineering works planned for mainline routes

  • Ten days of engineering works planned for mainline routes causing chaos
  • Dozens of Network Rail engineering schemes due to take place, causing delays
  • Work will include maintenance delayed by coronavirus disruption


Rail passengers face misery this Christmas with ten days of engineering works planned for mainline routes, causing train cancellations and major delays for travellers.

The shutdowns have yet to be added to timetables used by officials at National Rail Enquiries and passenger watchdogs warned this year’s engineering schedule could be even more disruptive than the pre-pandemic Christmas maintenance programmes.

It is understood that dozens of Network Rail engineering schemes are due to take place, bringing delays on services between London and the South, South-West, Wales and Glasgow. Heathrow airport will be cut off from London Underground services for nine days.

The work – undertaken as passengers try to make an estimated ten million journeys over the festive period – will include maintenance delayed by coronavirus disruption last Christmas and over bank holidays.

It is understood that dozens of Network Rail engineering schemes are due to take place, bringing delays on services between London and the South, South-West, Wales and Glasgow. Pictured: Chaos at Waterloo station at Christmas a previous year, where commuters faced delays and cancellations

Network Rail, which will shortly announce the programme of works costing tens of millions of pounds and involving up to 20,000 engineers, urged passengers to plan ahead and claimed ’95 per cent’ of the network would be unaffected.

The worst-affected lines will include those connecting London to the South – Southern Railway services will cease between Victoria and East Croydon for ten days from Christmas Day.

Journeys from London to Scotland will also be hit when lines close between Glasgow and Motherwell from December 27 to the New Year. Trains from London to Wales will also be affected due to work at Swindon and Gloucester.

Some London Waterloo to Portsmouth services will start from Farnborough while buses will replace trains around Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon from December 27.

Network Rail, which will shortly announce the programme of works costing tens of millions of pounds and involving up to 20,000 engineers, urged passengers to plan ahead and claimed '95 per cent' of the network would be unaffected (stock photo)

Network Rail, which will shortly announce the programme of works costing tens of millions of pounds and involving up to 20,000 engineers, urged passengers to plan ahead and claimed ’95 per cent’ of the network would be unaffected (stock photo)

Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for transport campaigners Railfuture, said: ‘Works need to be communicated clearly with passengers, so they are aware of timetable changes well in advance and have their inconvenience minimised. But passengers need to remember the end result will be a better railway.’

Richard Freeston-Clough, from the passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, said: ‘People have an urge to see family and travel this Christmas after what happened last year, but we are really concerned there will be a problem for people to get to Heathrow Airport. Engineering works not yet showing on timetables is an issue.’

Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, confirmed a ‘considerable amount of engineering work’ was planned.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘We’ve worked with train operators to reduce the impact on passengers as far as possible, so they can spend time with families and friends this Christmas.’

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