If you're planning to travel by rail over the festive season, be warned as widespread disruption is set to cause absolute bedlam, thanks to the largest ever programme of engineering works. The Great Western, Greater Anglia, South Eastern and Brighton lines are all set to be affected throughout December until early January.
The £150 million programme is expected to lead to stations being closed, delays, overcrowding, as well as journeys being terminated early and continued via bus.
The festive spirit is likely to be dampened for anyone planning to travel from Brighton to London Victoria; the journey is set to be increased by up to 1 hour 30 minutes thanks to a replacement bus service. Those travelling from London to Gatwick will have to either board a replacement bus service for a portion of the journey or endure a painful 90 minute trip, rather than the usual 30 minutes. Airline passengers flying out of Heathrow on December 27th and 28th will also face disruption as there will be no Heathrow Express or Connect services available.
For those who are travelling on these routes for Gatwick and Heathrow Airports, it is strongly recommended to allow extra journey time and anticipate additional delays. This will minimise risk of missing flight departures.
Passengers heading to Somerset, Devon and Cornwall will be affected on December 27th and 28th, with journeys starting at London Waterloo and diverting to Basingstoke and Reading. This delay is expected to add an extra 80 minutes on to their existing journey time.
On the Great Western mainline, London's Paddington Station will be closed on December 27th and 28th - forcing people to find an alternative route from Marylebone via Banbury and Oxford. This will add an extra 90 minutes to their existing trip. Train services from Kent and East Sussex will terminate in Victoria, Blackfriars and New Cross stations instead, with travellers being faced with finding a different route at this busy time.
Trains to Essex between Ipswich, Norwich and London Liverpool Street will be terminating at Ingatestone and a replacement bus service will be running for five days over the festive period.
The works are being carried out as a plan to build new tracks and upgrade the signalling networks, however they have faced criticism from Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Teresa Pearce, who described the works as 'complete bedlam'. "œStations will be blocked and shut" she stated, "œhowever the train companies are not explaining to people that services will cease from Charing Cross and Cannon Street at about 8pm on Christmas Eve. So everyone who works in a shop in the West End is not going to get home unless they do something different. So it's bedlam."
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