Travellers warned rail chaos will continue until EASTER: Only 15 DAYS without engineering works
Britain must brace for more rail chaos amid looming Christmas strikes as planned works mean passengers will see just 15 days of normal service until April.
Between Christmas and Easter there will be disruptions due to construction work on key northern routes every day – with the exception of just two weeks.
That includes the busiest railway in northern England, which handled 137 million passengers in the year before the pandemic. The line runs 76 miles from Manchester to York, via Leeds and Huddersfield.
Much of the disruption is being caused by a Crossrail project in northern England, which will deliver a fully electrified Transpennine route while doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
Much of the disruption is being caused by a Crossrail style project in the north of England on the Transpennine route
The rail operator Transpennine Express is one of the hardest hit by the forthcoming works
“This is major open-heart surgery on a patient who is running a marathon,” Rob McIntosh, managing director of Network Rail’s eastern region, told The Sunday Times.
This is the first step in one of the biggest National Rail upgrades in decades and will aim to upgrade the north of England by making cities more accessible to one another.
Passengers will face a three-day lockdown near Leeds on New Year’s Eve, followed by a nine-day lockdown between Huddersfield and Leeds from February 4. The most disruptive lockdown will affect stations between Huddersfield and Manchester from March 11 to April 6.
TransPennine Express, Northern CrossCountry, Grand Central, LNER and freighter trains will be affected.
Avanti West Coast will also face disruption in March due to modernization work at the Carstairs Junction south of Glasgow which will close the line from March 4th to 20th.
There are also fears of further planned strikes in England by railway unions such as the RMT led by Mick Lynch.
The strikes will take place on Christmas Eve through December 27th, then again on January 3rd and 4th and again on January 6th and 7th.
It was announced this week that the first electrical lines for the Transpennine upgrades have been laid between Church Fenton and Colton Junction, where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line to York.
According to Network Rail, this is one of the busiest rail routes in the north, with over 100 trains a day.
Electric and hybrid trains will travel up to 50 km/h faster with the new lines, allowing them to travel at speeds of up to 200 km/h.
Misery on the M25 in Dartford on Friday as people tried to get away for the start of the Christmas holidays
A traveler walks through the concourse during a strike by rail workers over wages and working conditions at Paddington station in London
Mick Lynch on the picket line as over 40,000 railway workers begin a 48-hour strike after talks this week failed to resolve a dispute over wages, jobs and working conditions
Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail’s Eastern Region, said: “We have reached an important milestone on our journey to bringing cleaner, greener trains to the North and delivering a better railroad that people can count on.
“Our teams in York and Manchester are working together to electrify sections of the route and will eventually connect to unlock faster and more frequent connections to help passengers get to their destinations on time.”
Railway Minister Huw Merriman said: “Our multi-billion pound upgrade of the Transpennine route will transform journeys for passengers in the north of England, with faster, more frequent services and improved accessibility.
“This is the first major milestone on the way to a fully electrified route between York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester that will reduce travel times and save 87,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.”
In a statement published on their website, a spokesman for the Transpennine Route Upgrade said: “After completing the full 70-mile route across the Pennines, rail travelers will help save up to 87,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – the equivalent to 5.9 Millions of car journeys on the same route.
“For the people who live near the railroad, this also means better air quality and quieter trains.”
Elsewhere, construction work is also planned on the Isle of Wight until April 2023 while ‘major’ projects take place, meaning no trains will run.
Planned west coast line upgrades also mean passengers will face disruption nationwide from Christmas through March.
This is especially true for journeys operated by Avanti West Coast trains.
More strikes this week by members of the RMT herald the start of a disrupted holiday season.
On Friday, Mick “The Grinch” Lynch was accused of ruining the start of the Christmas holiday when hard-working Britons struggled to travel to the end of the year labor celebrations due to the crippling rail strikes.
Businesses also suffered from the severe lack of attendance on “Black Eye Friday” – traditionally the busiest night of the year for Christmas parties – as people were stuck at home as pubs, clubs and restaurants expected to lose billions on mass cancellations this week.
Traffic jams also emerged in major cities as people were forced into their cars after train services were halted by RMT Union for the second straight day into January.
The RMT is coming under increasing pressure in England after it managed to strike deals with devolved governments in Scotland and Wales – but Mr Lynch insists the UK government has offered nothing new to workers in England.