Rail users facing a bleak Christmas

Off-line: Essential engineering work on the West Coast main line will mean major disruption to services between Lancashire and London over Christmas.
Off-line: Essential engineering work on the West Coast main line will mean major disruption to services between Lancashire and London over Christmas.
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Rail travellers are facing major disruption over the Christmas period due to engineering works on the West Coast main line.

Network Rail are using the holiday period to make essential repairs.

But passengers have been warned that sections of the express route from Lancashire to London will be shut down for up to four days.

The company today issued an apology to rail users in advancefor the inconvenience caused at a time when many travellers take the opportunity to visit family and friends over the festive season.

“There is never a good time to carry out this type of work and we have liaised closely with the train operators to plan for it to take place at a traditionally quieter time on the railway,” said Jim Syddall, acting route managing director for Network Rail.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused but the work is essential to improve the network and maintain reliable services for the millions of passengers who travel on the West Coast main line every year.”

The work means the line will be shut between Euston Station in London and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire after the last trains on Christmas Eve until Monday December 29.

It will also be closed between Stafford and Crewe after the last trains on Christmas Eve until Sunday 28 December.

The closures are necessary as work continues on improvements in the Watford area and between Stafford and Crewe.

To minimise disruption Network Rail and the Virgin Trains and London Midland train companies are advising passengers to avoid the West Coast main line and use alternative routes.

The West Coast closure is just one of a number of disruptions to services over Christmas and the New Year as Network Rail carry out a major programme of engineering work.

On December 27/28 engineering work taking place between Edge Hill and Earlestown/St Helens Central is closing some lines in the North West.

Buses will replace trains on Arriva Wales services between Shrewsbury and Hereford from December 27 to 29. The disruption will affect services out of a number of main London stations including London Bridge, where there will be a 16-day part closure for work involving the £6.5 billion Thameslink programme.

From Saturday December 20 to Sunday January 4 Southern and Thameslink trains will not call at London Bridge and cross-London Thameslink Bedford-Brighton trains will not return until 2018.

Also, from Monday December 22 to Christmas Eve some Southeastern Charing Cross services will not call at London Bridge in the morning peak.

Another of the main London stations affected over the holiday period is Paddington, where engineering work taking place between Southall and Slough west of London means some lines will be closed from 5pm on Christmas Eve until the end of Sunday December 28.

Services will also be affected between Slough and Reading West/Tilehurst in Berkshire where engineering works are being carried out from Monday December 29 until Saturday January 3.

Other areas where engineering work is scheduled at times over the holiday period include routes in and out of Birmingham New Street and trains between Cambridge and Ely in East Anglia.