Monday 18 Dec 2017
Passengers urged to plan their journeys ahead of bumper Christmas upgrade
- Network Rail will be investing £160m in improving and upgrading the rail network over the Christmas period including largest ever signal data upgrade at Paddington.
- Passengers travelling from the west are advised to plan ahead as upgrade work means Paddington will have no train services running between December 24 and 27 inclusive (London underground services are unaffected)
- A reduced service to and from London Paddington will then be in operation from 28 December to 1 January inclusive
Rail passengers in the west preparing for their Christmas getaway this week are being issued a final reminder to plan their journey as Network Rail delivers one of its biggest ever festive upgrades on the Great Western mainline.
The huge festive improvement includes the largest ever signal data upgrade at London Paddington. The work, which forms part of the Crossrail project, will enable new GWR electric services to run to Didcot, through Reading from January 2018.
Further work will take place in Oxford, Wiltshire and across the west and will enable thousands of better, more frequent and faster services in the months ahead.
The upgrade means there will be no train services in or out of London Paddington from 24 to 27 December with a reduced timetable between 28 December and 1 January 2018.
Passengers arriving from the west be diverted into London Marylebone, but these services will be limited. Local trains in the Thames Valley will run as far as Slough, where there will be a bus replacement service to London where it will meet London Underground and other Transport for London services.
While for many, Christmas and New Year will be spent celebrating with friends and family, a 32,000 strong workforce will be out in all weathers across the country, helping to build a bigger and better railway.
Overall, there will be less disruption for rail users this Christmas as the majority of work has been scheduled for when no trains are planned to run, such as on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The majority of the rail network remains open for business however, with approximately 95 percent unaffected by the festive upgrade..
Ben Wheeldon, Network Rail’s programme director for the Crossrail project said: “Successful completion of these Christmas works and our signalling upgrade is not only vital to delivering the Crossrail project, but is an integral part of our Railway Upgrade Plan as we continue to introduce new trains and enhance the capacity and reliability of our railway.
“However, we can't carry out these major upgrades while still running trains. This will mean changes to services over the festive period, so we strongly advise passengers to plan their journeys as early as possible.”
A breakdown of how journeys may be affected can be found by visiting nationalrail.co.uk/Christmas or www.gwr.com/ christmas2017
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.