• More than £148m to be invested over the Christmas and New Year period
  • Railway open for ‘business as usual’ as majority of the network is unaffected by upgrade work

Network Rail is urging passengers to plan their journeys in advance as it delivers more than 330 projects as part of a £148m investment across Britain over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

A 25,000-strong workforce will work around the clock this holiday season to deliver more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services for passengers when they return to work.

The programme of work is part of Network Rail’s five-year railway upgrade plan – a multi-billion-pound investment in the rail network which will improve passenger journeys in the months and years ahead.

Overall there will be less disruption for rail users this year, compared to last, as most of the investment work has been scheduled for when no trains are planned to run, such as on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. However, some routes will see significant changes to normal services and so passengers need to plan their journeys as early as possible.

In some parts of the country, work will begin on Sunday 23 December this year to give engineers three clear days to make uninterrupted progress on vital projects.

The major investment projects affecting services from the capital this holiday season include:

  • London Liverpool Street: Upgrading the overhead wiring system at Forest Gate junction as part of the £250m upgrade of the Great Eastern Main Line. This means changes to train services between London Liverpool Street and Romford from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.
  • London Paddington: Installing new track at Heathrow Airport junction to improve reliability. This means that there will no trains to/from London Paddington station from Sunday 23 to Wednesday 26 December and on Sunday 30 December.
  • London St Pancras: Replacing the track between London St Pancras and Kentish Town as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade. This means there will be reduced services to/from London St Pancras from Monday 24 December to Tuesday 1 January.
  • London Waterloo: Replacing old switches and crossings – the movable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another – with new kit at London Waterloo. The station will remain open and around half the normal services will be running. 
  • London Victoria: Installing new track at Battersea Pier junction, which will replace infrastructure built in the mid-1970s and improve reliability for the 240,000 passengers who pass through every day. This means there are no Southern or Gatwick Express services to/from London Victoria station from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.
  • Clapham Junction: With work taking place on the routes into London Waterloo and London Victoria, there will be changes to services to/from Clapham Junction from Sunday 23 December to Tuesday 1 January.

Andy Thomas, managing director of strategic operations at Network Rail said: “This Christmas and New Year thousands of rail workers will be working round the clock to deliver crucial upgrades to the rail network as part of the £50bn railway upgrade plan. This huge investment programme will deliver more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services for passengers when they return to work.

“We know that our railway is up to 50% quieter than usual during the festive period so taking on and delivering these huge transformational schemes at this time of year minimises our impact on passengers who, so research shows, understand the need for such activity.”

“While most of the network is open for business as usual, some routes are heavily affected and so we strongly advise passengers to plan ahead.”

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, who represent the rail industry, said: “The engineering work this Christmas is part of the industry’s plan to improve by delivering the largest investment in our railway since the Victorian era. Our priority is to reduce the impact this work has on our customers who need to travel by train this holiday season. So, it is important for people to check before they travel, and remember that if their train is cancelled or delayed that they can claim a refund.”

A breakdown of how journeys will be affected can be found by visiting nationalrail.co.uk/Christmas and following #XmasRailWorks on Twitter.



  • The industry is working hard to return to publishing confirmed timetables 12 weeks out as quickly as possible.
  • 2% of passengers book more than six weeks in advance, the proportion of people affected will be even smaller because in the majority of cases, tickets will still be able to be booked 12 weeks in advance.
  • Passengers are advised to plan ahead and check before they travel. Customers can do this through checking with their train company or National Rail Enquiries website is giving day-to-day information regarding engineering work.
  • To get info on the latest availability of Advance tickets passengers can choose to sign up with their train company or at National Rail Enquiries and receive updates via email.
  • If people have booked on a train that is cancelled, delayed, or where their reservation will not be honoured, and they decide not to travel, they will be given compensation.
  • If people have bought a ticket for a service and then, advance tickets are made available which are at a cheaper fare, customers should book the advance fare for that service and then request a fee-free refund on their original ticket.