Major changes to trains in London this Christmas as investment in improving railway continues: London Bridge August Bank Holiday works

Tuesday 20 Oct 2015

Major changes to trains in London this Christmas as investment in improving railway continues

South East

Passengers are being urged to check before travelling over the Christmas period as a major programme of improvement work on the railways in London this Christmas means that train services will be disrupted over the holiday period – including to Gatwick Airport. As a result, passengers travelling to and from the airport are being advised to allow more time for their journey.

The Thameslink Programme will be continuing to rebuild the railway around London Bridge, while a major project at Purley, near Croydon, will mean significant changes to trains to Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

Both projects, which are part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, mean there will be 10 days of changes to trains – including three working days – on lines from London Bridge, Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Victoria, from 1pm on Christmas Eve to Sunday, January 3 2016. There will be other stations on the network that may not have trains during this period, tickets will be accepted on alternative routes and rail replacement buses will be in operation.

Network Rail’s South East Route managing director Alasdair Coates said: “With more and more people travelling by rail every day, our work to modernise and expand the railway is absolutely vital to the region’s economic health.

“The work we are doing this Christmas is a crucial part of our Railway Upgrade Plan and will mean a better, more reliable railway for passengers when they return to work in the new year. We’re also continuing our rebuild of London Bridge so more trains can run to and through London on the Thameslink route in future.

“I’m sorry that our work will mean changes to services over Christmas and New Year, but with fewer passengers travelling than at other periods the holiday gives us the chance to do this major improvement work while minimising the impact on the travelling public.”

Alex Foulds, Southern’s passenger services director said: “We're putting arrangements in place to keep passengers moving while these essential works are being done, but it will mean some passengers' journey times will be extended, so please check before you travel.”

Southeastern’s managing director David Statham said: “The major rebuilding work being undertaken by Network Rail at London Bridge will mean our London services are affected over the Christmas period.

“This will mean that for 10 days from Christmas Eve evening there will be no trains to or from Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East or London Bridge and all services will be diverted to and from Victoria, Blackfriars and New Cross. We will be operating a revised timetable at this time, including on Christmas Eve day and New Year’s Eve evening.

“While the Christmas period is less busy on the railways, this work will include three normal working days between Christmas and New Year so I would encourage people to check before they travel and to leave more time for their journey where necessary. Alternative ticketing arrangements have been made so check our website before you travel.”

From Christmas Eve to 3 January 2016, the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme will be making major changes to the tracks and signalling at London Bridge and bringing a new viaduct at Borough into use for the first time. This is part of the scheme, due for completion in 2018, to rebuild London Bridge station and the surrounding railway to give passengers across the south east more trains to more destinations, more reliably.

As a result, from 8pm on Christmas Eve, there will be no Southeastern trains from Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge, with services diverted to Victoria and Blackfriars, or New Cross.

Meanwhile, from late on Christmas Eve until 3 January 2016, a major railway junction at Purley will be replaced with modern, more reliable track and equipment, giving passengers more reliable, comfortable and quieter journeys.

As a result, there will be no trains between South Croydon and Redhill, and the Gatwick Express service will be suspended. There will be a mixture of diversions and bus replacements to keep passengers on the move. 

Emma Rees, Head of Surface Transport at Gatwick Airport said: “We will be working closely with Network Rail and Southern to ensure passengers are aware of any disruption to their journey when travelling to and from Gatwick over the festive period through digital communications and poster displays throughout the airport, while staff will be briefed to deal with any passenger enquiries.  

“These works are an essential part of plans to double rail capacity at Gatwick by 2020 and treble capacity by 2035 and, to avoid disruption, we are advising passengers to check updates before they travel and to allow extra time when travelling to or from the airport.”

Passengers are encouraged to check with or their operator before they travel.


In addition to the work at London Bridge and Purley over Christmas, there will be some disruption to London Overground between Christmas Day and 28 December as a result of Crossrail work at Whitechapel. This will affect services between stations in South London and Highbury & Islington.

Diversions in Sussex include: passengers for Gatwick Airport will travel by train to East Grinstead for a bus link to the airport, or catch a train from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport via Horsham. Passengers travelling between London and Brighton will catch a train to East Grinstead for a bus link to Three Bridges and then a train to Brighton. Passengers travelling from Brighton to Gatwick Airport are unaffected. However, passengers travelling from Brighton to London Victoria will be able to travel to Three Bridges for a connecting bus to East Grinstead, where they will board a train to complete their journey.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.7 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

We are building a better railway for a better Britain.

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