Train passengers have been warned to plan their journeys home for Christmas early this year, with some routes set to be “heavily affected” after Network Rail announced more than 250 sets of festive engineering works.
London Paddington station will be closed for four days from Christmas Eve due to the improvement scheme, while Great Western Railway is advising passengers to complete any festive trips by December 23.
Routes across London, Essex, Glasgow, Lancashire, Kent and East Sussex are also set to be shut, with rail replacement buses to be used on many of the disrupted lines.
But Network Rail said that despite the fact that 50% more work will be carried out this year compared to Christmas 2016, 95% of the network will remain unaffected.
According to the company - which owns most of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales - the Christmas programme will result in thousands of new services and trains for passengers in 2018.
Chief executive Mark Carne said: “This Christmas will see over 30,000 dedicated and hardworking railway people working round the clock to deliver a bigger and better railway for the millions of people who rely on it every day.
“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 this Christmas.”
He continued: “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.”
For more information about changes to Christmas rail services, visit Network Rail.