Rail passengers across Sussex, south London and parts of Surrey and people travelling to Gatwick Airport are being warned of disruption this Christmas as Network Rail spends £8.2m upgrading one of Britain's busiest railway junctions.

Network Rail has today announced plans to install new track at the Battersea Pier junction, which will replace infrastructure built in the mid-1970s. Southern Rail has recently recorded the best punctuality for five years and this work will further improve reliability for the 240,000 passengers who pass through this junction every day.

It means platforms 9 to 19 will be closed at London Victoria station from 1:05am on Sunday 23 December until 4am on Wednesday 2 January.

Most Southern trains will be rerouted to and from London Bridge. There will be no Gatwick Express trains but Southern and Thameslink services for Gatwick Airport will run to and from other central London stations, including London Blackfriars and London Bridge. A limited bus service will replace trains for local journeys between Clapham Junction, Battersea Park and London Victoria.

Clapham Junction is expected to be very busy and passengers should avoid this station if possible.

Tickets will be accepted on advertised alternative routes, including London Underground between Balham and Victoria and between London Bridge/Blackfriars and Victoria.

All passengers are reminded to check before they travel. Revised train times will be available near the time using the National Rail Enquiries Journey Planner.

Grosvenor Bridge and Battersea

Grosvenor Bridge and Battersea

Additionally, London Overground, between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction stations, is also closed on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 December and Tuesday 1 January.

More than 56 trains pass through Battersea Pier every hour during peak periods, which shows just how vital this section of the railway is to passengers using Southern and Gatwick Express services, as well as the wider economy.

John Halsall, Network Rail’s managing director for the south east, said: “This major investment is part of a much wider programme of works, including the recent improvements at Factory junction nearby in Wandsworth, not to mention the £67m we’re spending on the Brighton Main Line.

“The Battersea works are a critical piece of the jigsaw to help us provide the infrastructure passengers deserve, reducing delays and boosting reliability.

“Of course, we know it’s never a good time to close the railway but doing nothing is not an option either. Not replacing the track at Battersea would risk us experiencing a major fault which could cause huge delays for passengers.

“Doing the work over the Christmas holidays, when the railway is significantly quieter than usual, means we can minimise disruption to passengers.”

A breakdown of how journeys will be affected by improvement work across Britain over the Christmas and New Year period can be found by visiting nationalrail.co.uk/Christmas.

For more information, please visit southernrailway.com, gatwickexpress.com or tfl.co.uk