Rail passengers facing ‘worst festive chaos ever’ with days of engineering work

Passengers face festive season chaos as 10 days of engineering work hit SIX of Britain’s seven major rail lines.

A total of 32 Network Rail projects are taking place between late December and early January, heralding one of Britain’s “worst ever Christmases”.

And in a further blow yesterday, a major union proposed a series of strikes.

Routes to be hit connect London to the South-West, East, Midlands, Wales, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

All trains are axed between the capital and Reading from December 24 to 27, with half scrapped December 28-31.

Buses replace trains between Bristol and Cardiff from December 27 to January 2, making a London-Cardiff journey two hours longer than usual.

Some journeys on the London to Glasgow West Coast mainline will take 90 minutes longer as buses replace trains from Carlisle north.

London to Edinburgh services are reduced on December 27.

Adding to the problems, Heathrow and Gatwick Express services will be shut down or have services halved.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, says engineering works are commonplace over the festive season as many passengers are away.

But campaigners TravelWatch warned: “Many Christmas rail users may be inexperienced travellers and travelling with children, and these people suffer the most during disruption.

Bruce Williamson of industry campaign group Railfuture said: “It’s impossible to do work without inconveniencing passengers.

"The railways have suffered decades of underinvestment so we’re now playing catch-up.”

Rail union boss Manuel Cortes of the TSSA said: “No one likes to be inconvenienced. But to keep trains running safely we need to ensure tracks and signalling are properly maintained.”

Meanwhile the RMT plans walkouts on West Midlands Trains every Saturday from November 16 until December 28 in a row over the roles of guards.

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