Published on : Tuesday, December 26, 2017
What on a normal Sunday sees around 50,000 passengers travelling to and from the West of England and South Wales, has remained literally empty this Christmas with no trains arriving or leaving until next Thursday. Apart from some foreign tourists unaware of the closure have been seen strolling up and down the station, desperate to reach Heathrow.
Passengers at Paddington are being asked to use South Western Railway services from Waterloo to Reading, and trains on a circuitous route from Marylebone via the Chilterns and Oxford to Bath and beyond. Paddington will reopen on Thursday, but disruption will continue until the end of the year. The main line to Shenfield in Essex and onwards to Suffolk and Norfolk at Liverpool Street station is also closed through 2nd January. Charing Cross, Cannon Street and London Bridge, the three major stations would remain closed until New Year.
Elsewhere in Britain, the main line north from Southampton Central is closed for the rest of the year, with bus replacement services adding up to an hour to journey times. The other closed lines include the main link between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton via Sandwell and Dudley.
Network Rail has said that even though it might seem strange to carry out work at Christmas…on average, around half the usual five million people travel by train each day during the Christmas period. No trains will run on Christmas Day, and only a handful on Boxing Day. No other major European country shuts down its trains over Christmas; in France and Germany, long-distance services will be running as normal, with some reductions in local trains.