Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Network Rail in London at Christmas

One of London’s biggest ever Christmas rail shutdowns will see many stations and lines - including direct links to Heathrow and Gatwick - closed throughout the holiday season for much-needed upgrade work. Virtually all routes into Paddington, including TfL’s Heathrow Rail and potentially Heathrow Express services, will be cancelled or heavily reduced from midnight on December 23 until New Year’s Day.

Major works to replace worn track south of Victoria will disrupt Southern rail routes from December 22 to January 2, with buses replacing the local link to a “very busy” Clapham Junction. Gatwick Express services to and from Victoria will not run at all, with passengers diverted onto regular services from London Bridge and Blackfriars.Large-scale engineering improvements between Liverpool Street and Stratford means major timetable changes for Greater Anglia, Stansted Express, c2c and TfL Rail services.

Services will also be reduced at Euston including the Caledonian Sleeper, London Overground’s Watford line and Virgin Trains to Scotland and the Midlands.The last “Night Riviera” Sleeper service from Paddington to Penzance will run on December 21, and will then not restart until New Year’s Day.

On Christmas Eve there will be early shutdown - around 9pm - of many services leaving London. There are no rail services across the UK on Christmas Day and very few on Boxing Day.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chairman, welcomed the investment but demanded passengers are given at least 12 weeks to make alternative travel arrangements. He said: “Engineering work, the result of investment, is important, needs to be done and is good for the railway. Passengers must be given as much advance warning as possible and it must be as accurate and useful as possible so that people have a choice of how they can travel on alternative routes. Six weeks’ notice for some routes is totally unacceptable. We want to get back to 12 weeks as soon as we can. We also want to see lots of staff about on the stations over Christmas and the New Year to help passengers when they need it.”

Industry chiefs at National Rail Enquiries say fewer people than usual travel over the Christmas and New Year period making it the best time to close lines for much needed engineering work. They say: “Many train companies will also be making changes to their timetable to match services to the number of customers travelling and some train times may change. It is important to plan ahead and check if your journey is affected as some services will be added, some will be restricted and some will not be running during this period,