Passengers kept on the move between Christmas and New Year: Bridge work as part of the Transpenning Route Upgrade in Manchester

Monday 13 Dec 2021

Passengers kept on the move between Christmas and New Year

Region & Route:
North West & Central
  • Railway improvements planned to ensure people can get home for Christmas
  • Majority of West Coast main line, Midlands and North West rail routes open as normal
  • Journeys are impacted on the Chiltern line and between Manchester and Leeds
  • Please ‘Look before you book’ to know your travel options

Essential rail improvement work over Christmas and New Year has been planned to cause the least disruption to passengers travelling between London, the Midlands, North West and Cumbria.

This year the bulk of the £30m bank holiday upgrades will take place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when traditionally most of the railway shuts down*, although passengers are advised there is also work taking place outside those dates. The work includes:

  • Between 25 and 29 December and between 1 and 4 January, Transpennine Route Upgrade work in Manchester
  • Between 24 and 29 December, upgrades continue to signals – the traffic lights of the railway – at Birmingham New Street and Macclesfield
  • Between 24 and 29 December, platform extensions so longer trains with more seats can run between Wolverhampton and Telford
  • Between 24 and 29 December track being laid over the new innovative Bletchley flyover as part of the East West Rail project
  • Between 27 and 29 December, Chiltern line bridge replacement work in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • On Sunday 2 January, West Coast main line is closed between Wigan and Preston

Passengers are advised to allow extra time for their journey, that they may need to change trains, or use a replacement bus service.

Anyone planning to travel during the work is urged to check with their train operator or at

Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West and Central region, said: “While some essential work is taking place to upgrade our railway over the festive period, we’ve worked hard with train operators to reduce the impact on passengers as far as possible so that they can spend time with their families and friends this Christmas.

“I’d like to thank the thousands of rail workers who will be working to keep services running, and those delivering upgrades to improve our railway and bring more reliable journeys to passengers in future.”

Passengers are also being given advance notice of work in January near Milton Keynes** and in and around Greater Manchester***.

To combat Covid, passengers must wear a face covering in train stations, on train services and any replacement bus services. Those who fail to do so face a fine of £200.

For more information visit:

Meanwhile, enhanced cleaning procedures will remain in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, with hand sanitiser on the station concourse.

To find out more about what Network Rail is doing to stop the spread of Covid-19 visit:

Notes to Editors

Notes to editors

*Christmas Day and Boxing Day

There has not been a standard service on Christmas Day for around 60 years, and no service at all for the last 40 years. There is a limited service on Boxing Day and operators work with Network Rail on a timetable where there is demand from people to travel. Planning the majority of engineering work on both these dates helps to limit the impact on passengers.

New Year look ahead

**Advance warning: Milton Keynes – Rugby flood protection work

When: 4-12 January 2022

Major flood protection work will take place on the West Coast main line between Milton Keynes and Rugby. Trains will be diverted around the 4km long drainage upgrade by using the route via Northampton from 4-12 January. This will add around 25 minutes onto West Coast main line journeys for Avanti West Coast customers. London Northwestern passengers travelling between Crewe and Euston will need to change trains at Rugby. Passengers are urged to check

***Advance warning: Greater Manchester weekend work

Track and signalling upgrades on several routes into Manchester will take place on Saturdays and Sundays in early 2022. They will mean changes to weekend train services between Manchester stations and routes to Buxton, Rochdale, Stalybridge, Sheffield and Stoke-on Trent. Passengers are advised to check with their train operator or at to plan their journey in advance.

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 - North West & Central Region
07740 782954

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.

Usually, there are almost five 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.

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