Wednesday 9 Dec 2020
Passengers urged to plan ahead and book early to support rail travel over Christmas period
Rail passengers across Bristol and the south west are being encouraged to check before they travel this Christmas and book their tickets in advance where possible.
With Covid restrictions eased between 23 and 27 December, services are expected to be busier than usual, so booking ahead will allow train companies and Network Rail to better prepare on services and in stations.
Whilst most of the network is running as usual over the Christmas and New Year period, essential engineering work is taking place including in the Bristol area.
Just north of Bristol Temple Meads, track work and a new signal gantry is being installed as part of a major track remodelling scheme which will help increase the number of trains that can run in the area and reduce congestion.
Meanwhile at the station itself, scaffolding is being erected from Monday 28 December ahead of the £40m refurbishment of the station roof.
This work means buses will replace train services from Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway, Bath Spa and Severn Beach on Sunday 27 December.
While from Monday 28 December until Monday 11 January timetables in the Bristol area will be amended as platforms 3-6 at Bristol Temple Meads will be out of use.
As part of the industry’s safer travel pledge, rail companies are taking steps so that passengers using the network can travel with confidence, including cleaning more frequently and using powerful, long lasting, anti-viral product. Passengers should also wash their hands regularly and wear a face covering, unless exempt.
Last week the Government outlined a series of measures focused on minimising disruption and helping people travel safely over the Christmas period, while urging passengers to plan their journeys carefully, consider quieter routes and where possible book ahead. For rail passengers this has included enhancing rail services, postponing and accelerating rail engineering works and cutting ticket charges to help travellers with their journeys.
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western Route Director, said: “This work is vital in our continuing transformation of the railway in and around Bristol. It will enable more trains to run in the future while reducing delays.
“We are also investing a huge amount in improving Bristol Temple Meads as the prep work ahead of the roof refurbishment really gets underway.
“There is never a good time to disrupt services, but the work is planned for the festive period as it is a time when fewer people travel.
“We thank passengers in advance for their patience and urge them to check before they travel.”
GWR Bristol Temple Meads Station Manager, Alex Hills, said: “We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.
“Please do, however, plan ahead, reserve a seat and be considerate of others.”
Passengers heading to south Wales are also urged to check before they travel as track work is taking place near Cardiff between Wednesday 30 December and Sunday 3 January.
Passengers can find out how their Christmas journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter.
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.
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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.