Monday 7 Dec 2020
West Coast main line passengers asked to plan ahead when travelling over Christmas
- Passengers using the West Coast main line between Crewe and London Euston should plan ahead if using the railway during the government’s Christmas travel window between 23 and 27 December
- People should reserve seats on long distance trains, travel at quieter times and follow all safety advice to stop the spread of coronavirus
- Railway improvement work is taking place to improve future journeys on one of Europe’s busiest mixed-use passenger and freight routes
Passengers travelling on the West Coast main line between Crewe and London Euston this Christmas are being asked to plan their journeys in advance.
Over Christmas and New Year Network Rail will be carrying out dozens of projects on its West Coast South route* to improve the reliability of the railway for passengers.
The work includes new overhead power lines and signalling near Watford Junction, new railway track in Aylesbury and a bridge rebuilding project in Stafford.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, said: “While much of the railway will be open before and after Christmas I’d still urge people to plan ahead by visiting www.nationalrail.co.uk. Remember to follow government guidelines and wear a face covering when travelling unless you are exempt for medical reasons.
“These essential railway upgrades on the West Coast main line will improve performance for passengers and freight and help to play its part in Britain building back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our frontline workers have continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to maintain and upgrade the railway for those who need it and this festive period will be no different, with hundreds of staff out delivering significant improvements across the West Coast South route.”
In the North West and Central region - which runs from Euston and Marylebone in London, to Scotland via the West Midlands and North West - £31.3 million is being invested in new track, bridges and overhead electric lines which power trains to improve future journeys.
As part of the government’s Christmas travel plan, some of these upgrades will start slightly later on Christmas Eve to allow more services to run.
Upgrades on the West Coast main line will now be completed earlier than planned – on 27 December – to enable a full Sunday service to operate from 10am rather than midday, making it easier for passengers to travel home from their Christmas bubbles.
The Government has 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.
Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Christmas will be unusual for many and rail companies are doing all they can to bring people together during the government’s travel window, but this year more than ever people should not just turn up at a station and hope for the best.
“If people follow the advice to plan ahead and book outward and return reservations for longer journeys, alongside the extra cleaning and better information that are part of our safer travel pledge, everyone should be able to travel with confidence.”
Although the vast majority of the network will be open for business in the run up to Christmas, planning ahead is particularly important for those travelling on Boxing Day when there will be a limited service.
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.
*Upgrade work taking place on Network Rail’s West Coast South route
The upgrades between 24 -27 December include:
- Working starting to remove shops on the ramp to platforms 8-11 at Euston station to make more space for passengers to get from the concourse to trains
- New track at Cheddington near Aylesbury
- Overgrown plants and trees cleared beside the railway at Roade in Northamptonshire
- A railway bridge rebuilt at Great Bridgeford near Stafford
- New overhead power lines and signalling near Watford Junction
- New overhead power lines at Bletchley as part of the East West Rail project
Coronavirus travel guidance
People should also follow Government guidance around the use of public transport.
Travellers must wear a face covering on train services and any replacement bus services.
Those who fail to do so risk being fined £200. However, some people are exempt, including young children and people with hidden disabilities or breathing difficulties.
For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers
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
0330 854 0100
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.