Meet the reindeer event at Paddington Station ahead of Christmas upgrade blitz: Reindeer-5

Monday 12 Dec 2016

Meet the reindeer event at Paddington Station ahead of Christmas upgrade blitz

  • Station users invited to live reindeer event at London Paddington on Monday 12 Dec
  • Network Rail will be investing £103m in improving and upgrading the rail network over Christmas
  • Passengers advised to plan ahead as work on a number of major projects will begin early on Christmas Eve

Paddington station users are in for a festive treat on Monday (12 December) when two of Santa’s reindeer will swap the North Pole for West London. The furry friends called Bubble and Primo along with Percy the owl, will be meeting and greeting passengers and posing for pictures at lunchtime on Monday, with station retailers handing out goodies to spread some festive cheer throughout the day.

The event is being hosted by Network Rail and train operator Great Western Railway (GWR), to remind passengers to plan their journeys this Christmas ahead of another huge programme of upgrade work.

Up to 200 projects will be delivered across Britain over this holiday period including major upgrades to the rail network as part of the Crossrail project. This means there will be no overground services in or out of London Paddington from the early hours of Christmas Eve to 29 December, including services to Heathrow Airport. Instead, trains will start and end at Ealing Broadway. There will also be a reduced timetable in place between 30 December and 2 January.

Phil Hufton, managing director England & Wales at Network Rail, said: “Successful completion of these Christmas works is not only vital to delivering the Crossrail project, but is an integral part of our Railway Upgrade Plan as we continue to enhance the capacity and reliability of our railway.

“Larger pieces of work are planned for bank holidays as they are generally quieter periods with up to 50% fewer passengers travelling by rail. This will mean changes to services over the festive period, so we strongly advise passengers to plan their journeys as early as possible.”

GWR Paddington Station Manager Dave Martin said: “These improvement works will increase capacity and connectivity in London and the Thames Valley, and on the wider Great Western network. New trains are already in operation on some GWR routes and more are on their way during the course of 2017 and 2018 – delivering more seats and more frequent services.

“We have worked closely with our colleagues at Network Rail to keep disruption to a minimum; however we urge customers to travel early and to note that we will not be able to run trains between London Paddington and Ealing Broadway for four days from and including Christmas Eve. We strongly advise customers with luggage, children or who require assisted travel, to use either London Marylebone, Euston or Waterloo.”

This essential programme of investment is part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan that provides faster and more frequent services to help relieve over-crowding and respond to the tremendous growth encountered on Britain's railways

Passengers travelling over Christmas are being advised to plan their journeys carefully this year as there will be significant changes to train services from Christmas Eve on some routes. A breakdown of how journeys may be affected can be found by visiting and following #ChristmasWorks on Twitter.

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About the event:

  • Reindeers Bubble and Primo and Percy the owl will be at Paddington Station from 10am until 2pm on Monday 12 December
  • Media are invited to attend – to register your interest contact
  • Network Rail spokespeople will be available for interview

Animal welfare:

The Reindeer Hire Company travels under full License from Animal Health and DEFRA and holds a performing animal license from its Local Authority, Essex County Council. The reindeer live on the farm all year round and all of the qualified staff work with them throughout the year. They enjoy access to their own pasture and stabling all year round and are looked after to the highest welfare standards, meaning that they are happy and relaxed and used to meeting the public when they commence ‘duties’ for the festive season.

Percy the owl is captive bred and has been raised by the company since it was 20 days old.  It has an A10 Certificate and is registered with the IBR, and all of their birds are handled and fed every day. For more information, please visit  

More information about services out of London Paddington Station:

Major upgrades to the rail network services in 2017 means there will be no services between London Paddington and Ealing Broadway, from Christmas Eve to Thursday 29 December. Trains will start and end at Ealing Broadway where you can change on to the London Underground. As there is no step-free access, GWR tickets will also be valid via the following London stations:

  • Euston: to and from the Hereford area (change at Birmingham New Street) 
  • Marylebone: to and from the Oxford area (change at Oxford)
  • Waterloo: to and from Bristol, South Wales, the South West and Basingstoke (change at Reading)

A reduced timetable will also operate between 30th December and 2nd January.

The following are some of the biggest projects being delivered this Christmas:

  • Crossrail West: Work taking place between Old Oak Common, Stockley, Hayes, Acton and Maidenhead sees significant changes to services out of London Paddington from Christmas Eve including services to Heathrow
  • Crossrail East: Major upgrades in preparation for new services in 2017 will mean that bus replacements and diversions will be in place to some services out of London Liverpool Street on the Great Eastern main line to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich from 23 December until 4 January
  • Northern Hub: Large scale work taking place on Manchester’s Ordsall Chord project will mean bus replacements and diversions from Oxford Road station from 18 December to early hours on 28 December
  • Thameslink: Major improvement work on the approaches to London Bridge means there will be no Southeastern services to London Bridge and Charing Cross from 24-28 December or to Cannon Street from 24-27 December
  • Cardiff Area Signalling Renewal: This Christmas will see significant work in the Cardiff area as new signalling and tracks are brought on-stream. There will be no train services late on Christmas Eve between Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Newport and the Valleys and there will be bus replacements and diversions in place between Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Newport and the Valleys from 27 December until 3 January

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 - Lisa Russell
Senior media relations manager
Network Rail
07734 649250

About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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