Bank holiday trains chaos: Tens of thousands to be affected by Easter engineering work

Length of some journeys between London, the West Midlands and northwest England will double

Electrical engineering: the Great Western Line is being electrified
Electrical engineering: the Great Western Line is being electrified

The bank-holiday tradition of rail engineering work and bus replacement services will be even more intense than normal over Easter 2019.

Network Rail projects will disrupt the journeys of hundreds of thousands of passengers, and doubling the length of some journeys between London, the West Midlands and northwest England.

Work on the High Speed 2 project, connecting London with Birmingham and beyond, will cause disruption to the largest number of rail passengers over Easter.

No trains will run to and from London Euston between Good Friday and Easter Monday. Normally it is the fifth busiest station in Britain handling an average of more than 120,000 passengers per day.

On Good Friday and Easter Monday, Virgin Trains services from London to northwest England on the West Coast main line will start or terminate at Harrow & Wealdstone in northwest London. It is a suburban station on the Bakerloo Line of the Underground, a dozen stops from London Paddington.

Rail tickets will include free Tube travel between Harrow & Wealdstone and Paddington.

“If you require onward travel beyond London Paddington on London Underground, please purchase your London Underground travel ticket before you travel, or at London Paddington,” the train operator says.

On Saturday and Easter Sunday, trains will start and end at Milton Keynes Central. Passengers are recommended to travel on Chiltern trains from London Marylebone to Birmingham.

Elsewhere on the West Coast route, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Easter weekend, trains between Crewe and Preston will be diverted via Manchester.

From Good Friday to Easter Monday, no trains will serve the main line through the West Midlands between Rugby and Birmingham New Street – leaving Coventry station to be served only by bus replacement services and a rail link on a branch line from Leamington Spa.

Trains between Euston and Coventry normally take an hour; on Good Friday, the journey will take almost three hours.

Further north on the West Coast main line, engineering work is taking place at Lancaster, Carlisle, Rutherglen and Motherwell.

Travellers between Glasgow and London are advised to travel on the East Coast main line to and from King’s Cross station. This will also be the terminus for Caledonian Sleeper services.

Besides the disruption on the West Coast main line, rail passengers in many other parts of the country will experience disruption.

London Fenchurch Street will be closed, with trains to south Essex running to nearby Liverpool Street instead.

Also in the capital, some lines through Wimbledon – on the main line southwest from Waterloo to Guildford, Portsmouth, Southampton and Salisbury – will be closed from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

South Western Railways services will be “altered, diverted or cancelled”.

Airline passengers heading to and from Gatwick will face problems on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, when there will be no Gatwick Express services. Trains will serve London Bridge and St Pancras instead.

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On the East Midlands network, trains from London St Pancras will not call at Derby. The Thameslink line will also be disconnected at London St Pancras.

The Severn Tunnel connecting London Paddington, Swindon and Bristol Parkway with Newport, Cardiff and Swansea is closed for electrification work from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

The link from Newport via Chepstow to Gloucester is also closed.

Great Western passengers between South Wales and stations to London will spend 45 minutes on a bus between Bristol Parkway and Newport, adding an hour to journey times overall.

On Easter Sunday, the main line from London to Devon and Cornwall will be closed between Westbury and Taunton, with trains diverted and journey times extended.

Trains between Manchester and Liverpool Lime Street will terminate at Hunt’s Cross on Easter Sunday, with buses completing the journey.

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Anthony Smith, chief executive of the transport user watchdog, Transport Focus, said: “Engineering works could be a major inconvenience, especially if it means having to use rail replacement bus services or make longer, unfamiliar journeys while London Euston is closed.

”Investment in maintenance and improvement is necessary, and people understand that.

“But our research is clear: passengers want to be kept on the train wherever possible, they want to know before buying a ticket if part of the journey will be by bus, and they want plenty of staff on hand to signpost and to help.”

Network Rail says: “An independent review in 2016 looking at how the rail industry plans and schedules major improvement work concluded that Christmas, Easter and bank holidays are the best times for upgrades that need major lines to be closed.

“A 13,800-strong workforce will work around the clock to keep the railway open and deliver more reliable infrastructure, improved facilities and services for passengers.

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