Changes to train times


Major improvement works taking place in 2017 and 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.

Advance Notice - Early information for the Christmas and New Year bank holiday, from 23 December 2017 to 1 January 2018, can be found here.

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


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.

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. By autumn 2017 the new trains will make up half the TfL Rail fleet.
  • 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. An interactive map of the Phase One route is available on the HS2 website.

Bristol Parkway and Cardiff Railway Upgrade

During late summer and autumn 2017 Network Rail are undertaking a key part of the Great Western Modernisation by electrifying the railway through tunnels between Bristol Parkway and Swindon. They are also constructing a new platform at Bristol Parkway station to increase capacity. Work will also be taking place in Cardiff, part of Network Rail’s programme to lower the track in the area ahead of installing overhead wires by late 2018.


The following work remains to be carried out:

23/24 September, 30 September/1 October, 7/8, 14/15, 21/22 and 28/29 October - On these weekends, Network Rail will be undertaking further work in the Cardiff area to prepare for electrification, as well as annual track maintenance in the Severn Tunnel. As a result, Great Western Railway high speed services will start/terminate at Newport and run non-stop via a diverted route to Swindon. A shuttle service will run between Swansea and Cardiff. Services to and from Portsmouth Harbour and Taunton will start/terminate at Bristol Parkway, buses will run between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol Parkway.

4/5, 11/12 and 18/19 November - On these weekends, Network Rail will be carrying out further preparatory work on the new platform at Bristol Parkway. Great Western Railway high speed services will call at Patchway instead of Bristol Parkway. A replacement bus service will run between Bristol Parkway and Patchway.
Local Great Western Railway services between Yate and Filton Abbey Wood will be replaced by buses. Trains will continue to run between Yate and Gloucester, and between Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Temple Meads. CrossCountry services will run on a diverted route, calling at Patchway and Filton Abbey Wood instead of Bristol Parkway.

Manchester - Linking Victoria, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations

Work is taking place on the Ordsall Chord in Manchester, which is 300 metres of new track that will create a link between Manchester's main stations.

The project also includes realigning existing track, building new bridges, removing disused railway arches and restoring Grade I listed structures.

Once the work is completed in December 2017, the chord will help provide many benefits not only to passengers but also to the wider economy

  • There will be new direct links to Manchester Airport from across the north of England.
  • Congestion currently seen at Manchester Piccadilly will reduce by a quarter with some services being rerouted through Manchester Victoria.
  • There will be more capacity on the railway, meaning more frequent trains to run.

To complete the work safely, some train services will be affected throughout this year coming in and out of Manchester Victoria. You can check whether this project will impact your travel arrangements with Northern and TransPennine Express here.

Liverpool Lime Street station upgrade

Journeys through Liverpool Lime Street will be affected for 23 days, from 30 September to 22 October 2017, while Network Rail undertakes vital upgrade work. The station will be fully closed for part of this period. The work is part of a £340m railway investment programme by Network Rail and Liverpool City Region taking place from now until 2019.

Engineers will be remodelling station platforms, increasing them in number and in length. Work will also take place to install overhead line equipment to power electric trains and upgrade track. This is the first period of upgrade work, a further stage will take place in 2018.  Once the work is complete passengers will be able to enjoy three new services per hour in and out of Lime Street station, including new direct services to Scotland (starting in 2019), more reliable services and a re-modelled concourse.

A revised transport plan is in place until 22 October 2017. Train services via St Helens stations will have access into Liverpool Lime Street platforms 1 and 2 between 06:00 and 20:00. At other times buses will run between Huyton and Liverpool Lime Street. Liverpool South Parkway will continue to be an interchange for all other services.

Sheffield - Rotherham Tram Train project

The Sheffield - Rotherham 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. Seven brand new Tram Train vehicles are being introduced, designed to run on both the Stagecoach Supertram system and the national rail network.


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.

When the work is complete in 2018, 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 between 11 November 2017 and 25 March 2018. Buses will replace trains when the lines are closed as follows:

  • 11 November 2017 – 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.