Network Rail is urging passengers to plan their journeys in advance as it delivers more than 330 projects as part of a £148m investment across Britain over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
A 25,000 strong workforce will work around the clock this holiday season to deliver more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services for passengers when they return to work.
The programme of work is part of Network Rail’s five-year railway upgrade plan – a multi-billion-pound investment in the rail network which will improve passenger journeys in the months and years ahead.
Overall there will be less disruption for rail users this year, compared to last, as most of the investment work has been scheduled for when no trains are planned to run, such as on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. However, some routes will see significant changes to normal services and so passengers need to plan their journeys as early as possible.
In some parts of the country, work will begin on Sunday 23 December this year to give engineers three clear days to make uninterrupted progress on vital projects.
The major investment projects this holiday season include:
- Upgrading the overhead wiring system at Forest Gate junction as part of the £250m upgrade of the Great Eastern Main Line. This means changes to train services between London Liverpool Street and Romford from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.
- Installing new track at Battersea Pier junction, which will replace infrastructure built in the mid-1970s and improve reliability for the 240,000 passengers who pass through every day. This means platforms 9 to 19 will be closed at London Victoria station from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.
- Replacing old switches and crossings – the movable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another – with new kit and making changes to the track layout between Bedford and Kettering as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade. This means changes to train services from Monday 24 December to Tuesday 1 January.
- Installing new track at Heathrow Airport junction to improve reliability. This means that there will no trains to/from London Paddington station from Sunday 23 to Wednesday 26 December and on Sunday 30 December.
- Signalling upgrades as part of the Weaver to Wavertree resignalling project in Merseyside, which will enable more reliable journeys and boost capacity in the area. Signalling areas in Allerton, Speke and Garston are being recontrolled to the Manchester Rail Operating Centre over the festive period. Works will take place from 21:15 Monday 24 December to Tuesday 1 January. This will mean changes to services to/from Liverpool during this time.
Andy Thomas, managing director of strategic operations at Network Rail said: “This Christmas and New Year thousands of rail workers will be working round the clock to deliver crucial upgrades to the rail network as part of the £50bn railway upgrade plan. This huge investment programme will deliver more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services for passengers when they return to work.
“We know that our railway is up to 50% quieter than usual during the festive period so taking on and delivering these huge transformational schemes at this time of year minimises our impact on passengers who, so research shows, understand the need for such activity.”
“While most of the network is open for business as usual, some routes are heavily affected and so we strongly advise passengers to plan ahead.”
Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, who represent the rail industry, said: “The engineering work this Christmas is part of the industry’s plan to improve by delivering the largest investment in our railway since the Victorian era. Our priority is to reduce the impact this work has on our customers who need to travel by train this holiday season. So, it is important for people to check before they travel, and remember that if their train is cancelled or delayed that they can claim a refund.”