Christmas disruption ahead on the railway

Railway works SUS-141112-105822001
Railway works SUS-141112-105822001

Rail passengers travelling to London between Christmas and the New Year face disruption as improvement works take place.

Eastbourne commuters are being warned that trains in and out of London will no stop at London Bridge between Saturday December 20 and Monday January 5 next year.

The work there is part of the £6.5billion Thameslink Programme which will see two new platforms opened and new track laid as the project moves to the next stage of the biggest station redevelopment the capital has ever seen, transforming the travel experience for the station’s one million weekly users. The work begins on December 20 with no Southern or Thameslink services calling there.

Network Rail, responsible for the railway system, says the improvement work across the country is the biggest Christmas and New Year investment programme ever carried out on Britain’s rail network.

Dave Ward, the managing director for Network rail’s south east route, said, “An army of more than 11,000 engineers will be spending their Christmas Day, and the days that follow, working on the railway across Britain to deliver improvements for passengers, with new facilities and new equipment designed to reduce delays, improve train performance and build a bigger, better railway for the 4.5million people who travel on the network every day.

“Making the railway better is what we aim to do everyday and our investment programme this Christmas, the biggest yet, is fully focussed on delivering a better service for passengers.

“Passenger numbers have doubled since 1997 and this Christmas investment programme forms a key part of the record £25billion being invested in our railway over the next five years to meet growing demand and improve and expand our congested railway network.

“With an 11,000-strong army we will deliver a huge amount of work during a quieter time for train travel. New technology and working practices mean we can keep lines open while our people work safely alongside, causing much less disruption than would otherwise be the case.”

While London Bridge is one of the biggest schemes, there are a further 300 projects being undertaken in 2,000 work sites across the country by Network Rail and its contractors between Christmas and New Year with the majority having little or no planned impact on passengers.

A significant portion of the work will be completed before services resume on Saturday December 27. No services run on Christmas Day with very limited services running on Boxing Day.

Mr Ward said, “Christmas is one of the few vital times in the year where we have enough time to carry out really big engineering tasks, such as knocking down and rebuilding bridges and installing new, more reliable signalling systems. This is vital investment work to improve our railway – investment.”