Changes to train times


Major improvement works taking place in 2018 and 2019

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

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


 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. Work on the line is expected to continue into 2019.

Stretching over 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow Airport to the west of London across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line will stop at 40 accessible 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, Wi-Fi, 4G connection and live travel information. Each train will be able to carry up to 1,500 people.

The Elizabeth line opening plan is currently subject to revision, and further details will be published here when available.


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.

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 2017 to support the existing tram service across the network. It has now been announced that the new tram train route from Sheffield to Rotherham is to open on 25 October 2018, and the Citylink vehicles will 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.

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.

Newbury electrification

The Great Western Route Modernisation project is the biggest investment in the Great Western railway since Brunel built it more than 150 years ago. Modernising the route will improve the experience of everyone who uses it and stimulate economic growth in the South West of England and beyond.

Newbury staton

The electrification of the route between Reading and Newbury will mean journeys will be quicker and seating capacity will be increased.

To make this happen, Network Rail have been undertaking upgrade work throughout the year, with the final few closures due to take place in October. Buses will replace trains from stations between Pewsey and Theale, and long-distance services from London to the West of England will run by using a different route with journeys taking up to 30 minutes longer.

The remaining work will take place between Monday 8 and Thursday 11 October. The good news is that the work is ahead of schedule, and this means Network Rail no longer need to close the line in November. However, work may still take place early in the morning or late at night, so be sure to check before you travel.

More information on this project is available from Great Western Railway here

New trains at Cotswolds stations

Over the coming months Great Western Railway will be bringing more of their new Intercity Express Trains into service, providing more seats and quicker journeys to and from the Cotswolds. In preparation for this, Network Rail need to make the platforms longer at Charlbury, Evesham, Hanborough, Honeybourne, Kingham and Moreton-in-Marsh stations.

Evesham station






While this work is carried out, the line between Moreton-in-Marsh and Worcester Shrub Hill will be closed between Saturday 17 and Sunday 25 November inclusive.

Coaches will replace trains, and customers will be able to use alternative routes for longer distance journeys through the affected area. More details and travel advice is available here.

Brighton Main Line rail improvement project

Brighton Main Line rail improvement project work will take place between Saturday 16 and Sunday 24 February 2019, and over several weekends between September 2018 and May 2019.

The work is a key part of a £300m government-funded programme to tackle delay hotspots and boost the reliability of the railway in the south east. The work being carried out will cut delays and provide a better, more reliable rail service to the 300,000 passengers who travel on the Brighton Main Line each day.

From Saturday 16 to Sunday 24 February 2019, no trains will run between Three Bridges and Brighton, or between Three Bridges and Lewes.

Please note, the planned nine-day closure between Saturday 20 and Sunday 28 October 2018 has now been cancelled, and trains will run as normal.

The unprecedented access provided by these planned closures will allow Network Rail engineers to renew and upgrade a stretch of railway that is responsible for more delays to Southern and Thameslink passengers than any other.

The improvement work will focus on three Victorian-era tunnels – Balcombe, Clayton and Patcham – and the railway which runs through them. A major programme to stem leaks into the tunnels and provide reliable drainage away from the tracks will take place, while the track, third rail power system and signalling will all be replaced or upgraded. Elsewhere, track will be renewed, sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks, will be replaced and fencing will be improved to deter trespassers. Without this programme of work, reliability on the Brighton Main Line will deteriorate in the months and years ahead, leading to more delays for passengers travelling between London and the south coast.

The closures have been carefully planned for school half-terms, when passenger numbers are lower and some people may be able to be more flexible with their travel plans or take holiday. Passengers wishing to travel on these dates will need to allow considerably more time for their journeys and should expect to use either diverted trains via longer routes or a replacement bus or coach to connect with rail services.

More information on the Brighton Main Line Improvement Project is available here.

Bristol area railway upgrade

Network Rail will be working on the lines around the Bristol area from September 2018 into 2019 to reduce congestion, cut journey times, increase capacity and improve reliability. As a result, on various dates, services will run to an amended timetable, buses will replace trains and journey times may take longer than normal.

Comprehensive details of how this improvement work will affect customers is available from Great Western Railway here.

Our brief summary of the changes announced so far can be found below:

Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October: During this weekend, there will be no trains via Bristol Parkway or between Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads, including the Severn Beach line. No direct services will run between London and South Wales, and services on other routes through the area will be amended.

Saturday 27 October to Sunday 18 November: Track laying is due to take place between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, including the Severn Beach line. Services on routes through the area will be amended.

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November, also Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December: Buses will replace trains between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, as well as between Bristol Temple Meads and Severn Beach.

Thursday 27 December to Monday 31 December: Work to electrify lines between Bristol Parkway and Newport will be taking place over the festive period. Coaches will replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Newport. In addition, upgrade work will be taking place in the Westbury area affecting services to/from the South Coast.

Felixstowe branch line improvements

A £60.4m programme of works is underway to transform the single track branch line to the Port of Felixstowe. This will allow more freight to be transported by rail to and from the port.  A 1.4km track loop will be installed near Trimley station, giving the flexibility needed to run more freight trains as well as improve the reliability of existing passenger services.







The work will support up to 10 additional trains in each direction to move goods to and from the Port of Felixstowe. With each additional freight train taking the equivalent of up to 76 lorries off the roads, the upgrade works will help to reduce congestion and pollution for the local community and the wider region.

In addition to the track re-doubling, a new bridleway bridge is to be built on the site of the existing Gun Lane level crossing. This will provide an alternative safe route across the railway for walkers, horse riders and cyclists to access the countryside.

To allow this work to take place, during most weekends from 18:50 on Saturday and all day on Sunday, trains will be cancelled. A replacement bus service will operate between Ipswich and Felixstowe, calling at all stations.

Christmas and New Year 2018/19 - Advance Travel Information

Our comprehensive Christmas & New Year Travel Summary will be published nearer to the time. But we already have early information from some Train Operating Companies of engineering work that may affect your journey over the holiday period (details are subject to change):

Great Western Railway

  • On Sunday 23, Monday 24 and Sunday 30 December, no trains will run between London Paddington and Slough, including the Greenford branch.
  • Major track layout changes at Westbury from 23 December to 1 January, trains will be diverted and replacement buses will run.
  • Trains between London and South Wales will be diverted via Gloucester due to electrification work from 24 December to 1 January, replacement buses will run between Bristol Parkway and Newport.
  • Work at Guildford from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 December means buses will replace trains between North Camp and Redhill / Gatwick Airport.

Heathrow Express - Because of Network Rail upgrades to the railway, it is likely there will be no Heathrow Express service from 23 to 26 December, or on 30 December. A reduced service will run on other holiday dates. More details here.

South Western Railway - About half of London Waterloo station will be closed on 23, 24, 27 and 28 December, affecting the number of services able to use the station.  Also, major track layout changes at Westbury from 23 December to 1 January mean there will be no South Western Railway service between Salisbury and Bristol.

Southern - There will be no Southern train services between London Victoria and Clapham Junction from Saturday 22 to Monday 24 December, and from Thursday 27 December to Tuesday 1 January. Full details of service changes are awaited.

Virgin Trains - Due to re-signalling work Liverpool services will be diverted between 27 December and 1 January and won't call at Runcorn. Buses will run between Runcorn and Liverpool / Crewe. Also, on 1 January, buses are expected to replace trains between Carlisle and Glasgow.


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

The Network Rail website is the source of a lot of the above, and it contains some really interesting information on railway improvement works.


Last updated:   08 October 2018