Changes to train times


Major improvement works taking place in 2018

Over the coming months, there will be a number of major improvement works taking place across the rail network, including in and around London.

Information for the Christmas and New Year bank holiday, from 23 December 2017 to 2 January 2018, can be found here.

Please find below our detailed overview on the following key railway improvement projects:


Thameslink Programme, including London Bridge

As part of the Thameslink Programme, work is continuing on rebuilding London Bridge station. When completed, London Bridge will have more through and longer platforms and a bigger concourse to cope with the 54 million passengers that go through every year.

Thameslink services which run through Central London are not calling at London Bridge until the work is completed in 2018, however there is a limited service which runs between London Bridge and Brighton.

Southeastern services to and from London Cannon Street are unable to call at London Bridge until January 2018.

Over Christmas and New Year 2017/18, there will be major changes to services as the Thameslink Programme brings all remaining new platforms at London Bridge into use and the final section of the new concourse will open for passengers. This may severely impact your journey.

From 23 December to 1 January 2018 there will be no trains at a number of London stations, and passengers travelling on Southeastern, Thameslink and Southern will be significantly affected. This potential disruption will affect the working days between Christmas and New Year.

2018 will bring new direct Thameslink routes from Peterborough and Cambridge. From May the Thameslink network will be expanded massively, connecting Peterborough and Cambridge into the north-south, cross-London route, transforming the journeys for thousands of people.

Elizabeth Line

The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London, boosting the economy by billions of pounds and supporting thousands of new jobs and homes. The line, currently being constructed by Crossrail, will be named after the UK's longest serving monarch when it becomes operational in 2018.

Stretching over 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow to the west of London across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line will stop at 40 stations - 10 newly built and 30 newly upgraded - and serve approximately 200 million people each year.

A fleet of 66 new 200 metre long trains built in the United Kingdom will run on the Elizabeth line, featuring nine walk-through carriages, air conditioning, CCTV and live travel information. Each train will be able to carry up to 1,500 people.

The Elizabeth line opening plan is listed below: 

  • Ongoing - New trains are being introduced into passenger service (under TfL Rail) between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield. .
  • May 2018 - TfL Rail service opens between London Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4, replacing the existing Heathrow Connect service and part of the Great Western Railway inner suburban service.
  • December 2018 - The Elizabeth line opens. Three separate services will run - between London Paddington and Abbey Wood, between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield, and between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport.
  • May 2019 - The Elizabeth line through service extends to run between Shenfield and London Paddington, and between Abbey Wood and London Paddington. Services from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport will continue to start and terminate in the National Rail station.
  • December 2019 - The Elizabeth line is fully open, with services running from Reading and Heathrow Airport in the west through the central tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.


High Speed Two (HS2)

High Speed Two, mostly referred to as simply HS2, is the planned £56 billion rail network between London, the West Midlands and the North

The first phase (construction from now to 2026) will link London Euston and Birmingham, while the Y-shaped second phase (2026 to 2033) will link Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. By the time both phases are finished in 2033 there will be 350 miles of new track.

Trains will run on the new lines at speeds of up to 250 mph. Each train will be 400 metres long and will carry up to 1,100 customers. There will be up to 14 trains per hour in each direction.

The first HS2 phase includes a revamp and expansion of London Euston station, there will be a new Old Oak Common station in west London, and two new Birmingham stations at Curzon and Interchange. Preparatory work on Phase One is underway, with major construction work beginning in 2018.

Newcastle track upgrade

Work will be taking place at Newcastle between Saturday 6 and Sunday 14 January 2018. 

Network Rail engineers will renew 19 units of ‘switches and crossings’ which are part of the complicated track layout. The units at Newcastle were installed in the 1980s and are becoming unreliable, with 15 failures between January and October 2017 causing delay to more than 8 million passengers who use Newcastle station each year.

During the work, platforms 9 - 12 at Newcastle will be out of use. Northern services between Newcastle and the Metrocentre will be replaced by buses. TransPennine Express, CrossCountry and Virgin Trains East Coast will be running an amended service between Newcastle, Durham and York. Please check your journey before you travel.

Tram Train pilot scheme

The Tram Train scheme is unique in the UK. It will link heavy and light rail infrastructure, systems and operations together to provide a new transport service.

South Yorkshire’s new Citylink tram train vehicles were introduced in the regular Supertram timetable from October to support the existing tram service across the network. The new tram train route from Sheffield to Rotherham is expected to open in 2018, once rail infrastructure work, testing and driver training is complete. The Citylink vehicles will then be used across the route.

The Tram Train pilot will help the rail industry understand and assess the technical issues involved with planning and operating the service. It will be the first time a Tram Train system has operated in the UK.

Scheduled to start in 2018, Tram Trains will run on the national rail network from a new Rotherham Parkgate Retail Park station via a new tram stop at the existing Rotherham Central station. They will then join the existing Stagecoach Supertram network at Meadowhall South (via a new 400 metre rail line called the Tinsley Chord) and continue to Sheffield city centre.

The Tram Train pilot will run for two years with a view to permanent operation. Learning gained from the pilot will help determine whether Tram Trains can run in other parts of the country. More information on this pioneering project can be found here.

Preston to Blackpool

The 17 mile route between Preston and Blackpool North will be fully electrified paving the way for better trains with more seats. The track layout and signalling equipment will be modernised to reduce delays and improve performance.

Work includes the replacement of 84 signals and moving the signalling control to the Manchester rail operating centre. Blackpool North and Kirkham & Wesham stations will be remodelled as part of the plans to simplify the current layout of the railway.

The improvement work requires the closure of the lines between Blackpool North / South and Preston until 25 March 2018. Buses will replace trains when the lines are closed as follows:

  • Ongoing until 28 January 2018: The Preston to Blackpool North and Blackpool South lines will be closed
  • 29 January – 25 March 2018: The route to Blackpool South reopens – Preston to Blackpool North remains closed.

Details of planned engineering work for approximately the next 12 weeks is available on our Future Engineering Work page.

The Network Rail website also has some interesting information on railway improvement works.


Last updated:   10 December 2017