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Passengers warned over Christmas rail disruption

BBC
22 November 2022 (UK)

Passengers are being warned to expect Christmas rail disruption, with 5% of the rail network shut over the festive period for engineering works.

The disruption includes no trains running into or out of London Liverpool Street station from 25 December through to 2 January, Network Rail said.

It urged passengers to plan their journeys in advance.

Rail strikes could also impact services in the run-up to Christmas, with union bosses set to announce further action.

Network Rail said most of the engineering works has been planned for when passenger trains don't run, such as on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and overnight.

It said 95% of the network would be open as usual, but key routes will be affected such as:

  • No services will start or terminate at Liverpool Street from 25 December through to 2 January. Greater Anglia, Stansted Express and Cambridge trains will be affected.
  • Long-distance services to Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham International, Blackpool North, Scotland and Glasgow Central will run to a reduced timetable from London Euston between 24 and 30 December
  • There will be no Southern or Gatwick Express trains to or from London Victoria from 25 December to 2 January.
  • Cannon Street station will be closed on 24 December and some services will start or terminate at London Bridge.
  • Lewisham station will also be closed on Christmas eve and there will be no trains between New Cross, St Johns and Dartford via Bexleyheath.

The works will cost a total of £120m, Network Rail said.

Its chief executive Andrew Haines said: "Christmas is an important time for the railway as it gives us the opportunity to get a lot of work done to improve the railway when trains aren't running, and therefore keep disruption for our passengers at a minimum.

"We've worked closely with our train operators to ensure the vast majority of the network is open for business over the festive period so people can travel by rail to spend time with their families and friends.

"However, some of these key upgrade projects will have an impact on services, so we're asking passengers to plan their journeys before travelling."

Mr Haines said the engineering work would mean "more reliable journeys" for passengers in future.

More strikes?

Separately, there are no dates set yet for rail strikes over the festive period, but workers are likely to stage more walkouts, with the RMT union warning it is likely to announce further action on Tuesday.

Union bosses accused train companies of refusing to make "their promised written proposals", and said Network Rail had "refused to make any proposals promised at the conclusion of intensive talks last week".

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, said he would be "recommending that we set out further phases of sustained industrial action in support of our members".

"While we will remain available for meaningful negotiations it is now obvious that the other side is unwilling or unable to progress matters appropriately, so our action will be reinstated," he added.

There is already a rail strike set for 26 November which could affect travel to Christmas markets as well as some major sporting events.

The action by the train drivers' union Aslef at 12 train companies means only an extremely reduced service will operate on a limited number of routes on the day.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said recent talks had let to firms believing they could see "the outline of a credible deal".

It said any further strikes "will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses in the run up to Christmas and beyond".

"The RMT leadership should now remove any uncertainty around Christmas and commit to protecting everyone's first festive period post-Covid from any strike disruption," the industry body said.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail's chief negotiator, said striking would only make the "precarious financial hole" that he claimed the industry was in, bigger.

"Only through reform, that will not result in anyone losing their job, can savings be made that can then be converted into an improved offer."

Source
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-63703648

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