May bank holiday rail users face disruption


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The Independent Online

Major London to Scotland rail routes as well as the main line to south west England are among train services that will be affected by engineering work over the May bank holiday weekend.

Travellers hit by disruption will include thousands of Liverpool fans heading to Wembley for their team's FA Cup final with Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday May 5.

A total of around nine million passengers are expected to travel by train over the bank holiday weekend and the rail industry said the "vast majority" of them would be unaffected by the improvement work.

Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies added that there would be around 17% fewer replacement bus services than there were over the 2011 May bank holiday weekend.

The two companies also said that around 45% more trains would run this year than operated during the May bank holiday last year.

But nearly every passenger train company will be operating some replacement bus services over this year's May bank holiday weekend.

Engineering work on one of the main London to Scotland routes - the East Coast - will mean trains travelling towards London on Sunday May 6 will have journey times extended by an hour.

Three lots of engineering work on the other main London to Scotland route - the West Coast line operated by Virgin Trains - will affect passengers, including the Liverpool fans, especially as the cup final is starting at 5.15pm.

All but three of Virgin's Liverpool to London trains have been cancelled that day with the last return service leaving just after 8pm - meaning fans face being stranded in the capital.

The West Coast disruption will affect passengers travelling on London Midland services as well.

Some London Midland trains between London and Crewe/Birmingham New Street will start and finish at Northampton, with buses replacing trains between London and Milton Keynes Central/Northampton.

Virgin Trains is replacing trains with buses on some services between Crewe and Liverpool Lime Street, Carlisle and Glasgow Central/Edinburgh.

First Great Western passengers will have to put up with engineering work between Reading West and Newbury in Berkshire with some Reading-Newbury services being replaced by buses.

Some services to and from London's Liverpool Street station will also be affected, with no trains running on Greater Anglia services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in Essex on bank holiday Monday May 7.

First Hull Trains' services on Sunday May 6 will start and finish at Peterborough and not run to and from King's Cross.

On bank holiday Monday May 7, Gatwick Express will operate a reduced, half-hourly service until 4pm.

First TransPennine Express services will be affected by four lots of engineering work.

For much of the weekend, buses will replace trains between Carlisle and Glasgow Central/Edinburgh and on Sunday May 6 there will be a bus replacement service between Preston and Carlisle.

Services operated by the Northern train company will also be subject to engineering work. Buses will replace trains between Hartlepool and Middlesbrough on Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend and there will be other bus-replacement services operated on some other Northern routes, including York-Poppleton and Whitehaven/Maryport and Carlisle.

On South West Trains, some services between Clapham Junction and Barnes in south west London will be replaced with buses, while on Southeastern buses will replace trains on some services between Strood and Gillingham/Rainham in Kent and on some between Tonbridge and Ashford International and Tonbridge and Maidstone West.

On services run by the Southern train company, buses will replace trains on some Sussex services between Brighton and Lewes and between Horsham and Littlehampton.

The Association of Train Operating Companies and Network Rail (NR) said: "The rail industry has cut its use of rail replacement buses by a third over the last three years.

"NR engineers will be working round the clock to lay new track, improve stations and repair bridges to help deliver a better railway for passengers."