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Biggest ever Christmas rail works programme

Network Rail is to carry out its biggest ever Christmas holiday engineering programme this month.

The rail infrastructure operator will spend £200M on new platforms, flyovers, junctions and other works between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

Major schemes will include new track at London Bridge, completion of a viaduct near Reading and installation of a modern signalling system at Watford.

In total 300 projects will be carried out across 2,000 sites between the last trains on Christmas Eve and the first services on 2 January.

Less than half the usual volume of people use the rail network on these days, so Network Rail tries to achieve as much as possible.

This means Christmas is cancelled for 11,000 engineers who will work on the network on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and in some cases beyond.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Making the railway better is what we aim to do every day, and our investment programme this Christmas, the biggest yet, is fully focussed on delivering a better service for passengers.

“With an 11,000-strong army we will deliver a huge amount of work during a quieter time for train travel. New technology and working practices mean we can keep lines open while our people work safely alongside, causing much less disruption than would otherwise be the case.”

He added: “We are acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the festive season to reunite with their friends and families. The vast majority of the network will be running normally over the holiday period with only small sections impacted by our work.

“I recognise and apologise for the fact that some of our essential improvement work will disrupt people’s travel plans. I know that passengers can be frustrated by disruption but people appreciate that carrying out this work at a time when the railway is less busy reduces overall disruption.”

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