Network Rail engineers trackside

Biggest Christmas rail upgrade works ever

Rail passengers travelling across the Great Western Railway network are being urged to travel early and to check their journey beforehand as Network Rail delivers its biggest ever Christmas upgrade works.

Engineers to work around the clock to modernise the network

Rail passengers travelling across the Great Western Railway network are being urged to travel early and to check their journey beforehand as Network Rail delivers its biggest ever Christmas upgrade works.

This Christmas and New Year, Network Rail engineers will carry out £25 million of improvements on the Great Western network, helping to pave the way for GWR to deliver more seats, on more frequent trains, on quicker, more reliable services.

GWR Operations Manager Rob Mullen said:

“We advise customers to plan their journey in advance at, and with the work at London Paddington and London Waterloo, to travel on or before 22 December if possible.

“While we recognise the disruption this work will cause, and thank passengers in advance for their understanding, it is vital to enable us to run more of our brand new Intercity Express Trains.

“These new trains are already delivering more seats, and will after timetable improvements agreed by Network Rail, deliver more frequent and quicker services on more modern and reliable infrastructure.”

How will my journey be affected?

Sunday 23 December to Wednesday 26 and on Sunday 30

  • Track renewal work near Southall: Long distance services will start and terminate at Reading, not London Paddington, with stopping commuter services terminating at Slough.

Sunday 23 December to Thursday 3 January

  • Track renewals near Westbury: Cardiff to Portsmouth services will not travel through Westbury. Instead passengers will need to use rail replacement buses between Trowbridge – Westbury – Warminster

Tuesday 25 December to Tuesday 1 January

  • Electrification work through Severn Tunnel Junction: A replacement bus service will operate between Newport and Bristol Parkway

Tuesday 25 to Sunday 30 December

  • Bridge strengthening at Guildford: Trains will terminate at Ash, change at North Camp for connecting replacement bus services for Guildford, Redhill and Gatwick Airport

The upgrades are part of Network Rail’s five-year railway upgrade plan – a multi-billion-pound investment in the rail network which will improve passenger journeys in the months and years ahead.

Network Rail’s Western Route Managing Director Mark Langman said:

"Owing to fewer passengers travelling at Christmas, we have an opportunity to carry out extensive improvement work with less disruption. We have dozens of projects which will be completed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day with no impact on train services. These projects will enable us to keep operating a safe, reliable railway for the communities and economies which we support.

"We know that the railway is up to 50% quieter than usual during Christmas and the New Year so where our planned upgrade work is more complicated to deliver we take the extra days either side of Christmas to minimise the disruption caused. In all cases, we work closely with the train companies to make sure passengers have accurate, timely information to allow them to plan ahead and we thank them for their patience."

Network Rail will have over 3,500 people working over the Christmas period on the Great Western upgrade works.

A breakdown of how journeys will be affected can be found by visiting and at and following #XmasRailWorks on Twitter.

Notes to editors

Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR is a FirstGroup company.

Contact Information

James Davis

Media Relations Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444

07703 890 711