Passengers urged to check before they travel this Christmas ahead of £22m festive upgrades including in Bristol, Stroud and London

Rail passengers are being asked to plan ahead and check before the travel this festive period as Network Rail completes its annual planned railway upgrades.

This year Network Rail is making over £22m worth of upgrades across its Western region, which runs from Paddington to Penzance, and whilst most of the network is running as usual over the Christmas and New Year period, a range of essential engineering work is taking place. 

In South Gloucestershire, new track is being installed either side of Bristol Parkway station from 8pm on Christmas Eve until 9pm on Friday 31 December. This is crucial maintenance that will help ensure the safe and smooth running of the railway on this key route for customers travelling by train between London and South Wales for years to come.

In Stroud, Network Rail is replacing the railway bridge over the canal at the Ocean in Stonehouse on behalf of the Cotswold Canals Connected Project. Engineers will be working 24/7 from 10pm on Christmas Eve until 4am on 1 January to replace the current culvert with a new open structure, allowing boats to pass through.

During this time, no trains will call at Bristol Parkway, Yate or Cam & Dursley with replacement buses in operation. Train services will resume on New Year’s Day.

At Bristol Temple Meads, work as part of the Bristol Rail Regeneration programme is continuing with the installation of tactile paving along the edge of the station platforms. This work will start on Christmas Day until 4 January with further work planned in the first few months of 2022. Train services will operate as planned but passengers are asked to take extra care when walking through the station.

Further east on the stretch of track between London Paddington and Slough, engineers are removing ageing and unreliable signalling equipment and swapping it with modern and reliable replacements. This work will begin at 10pm on Christmas Eve until 4am on Monday 27 December. During this time, there will be no trains in or out of London Paddington including no Heathrow Express trains to London Heathrow Airport on Boxing Day with a bus replacement service in operation.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail Western route and strategic operations director, said: “Our festive upgrades are crucial to ensuring the railway continues to run reliably and safely.

“Our continued investment into upgrading and improving the railway is evidence of our commitment to providing a railway fit for the 21st century and will support the introduction of new and increased services in the future.

“There is never a good time to disrupt services but the very best time to do that is always when there are fewest people travelling. With no trains on Christmas Day and very few on Boxing Day, choosing to undertake the majority of our work – particularly at London Paddington – on those days clearly makes sense overall.

 “We thank passengers in advance for their patience and urge them to check before they travel.”

Passengers can find out how their Christmas journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter.

Photo credit: Network Rail

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