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Bank holiday travellers face more rail disruption

Virgin Trains is urging passengers to ‘avoid travelling’ if possible.

Network Rail carries out major engineering work over bank holidays (Network Rail/Peter Devlin/PA)
Network Rail carries out major engineering work over bank holidays (Network Rail/Peter Devlin/PA)

Parts of Britain’s railway will shut down for the second time in three weeks this weekend as major engineering work is carried out.

No trains will run to or from London Euston between Saturday and Monday while work in preparation for HS2 is carried out.

Network Rail, the Government-owned company responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure, warned this will have a “major impact on journeys” as alternatives routes will take longer and be busier than usual.

Most of the railway network will be open as usual Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines

Virgin Trains, which operates services from London Euston on the West Coast Main Line, is urging passengers to “avoid travelling on these dates unless you absolutely have to”.

Other engineering work taking place over the May Day bank holiday weekend includes track renewal work in the South West.

This will see buses replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Newport, as well as disruption to trains from London to South Wales.

Upgrading of overhead wiring in Essex means no trains will run on the Shenfield to Southend Victoria/Southminster routes, while Thameslink services will be amended due to track replacement work in London.

The disruption comes just two weeks after a number of lines were closed over Easter.

Network Rail says it aims to carry out major projects over bank holidays because fewer passengers use the railway during those periods.

There will be further disruption at the end of the month during the late May bank holiday weekend.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Passengers want and deserve a more reliable railway, and over the May bank holidays thousands of railway workers will be out on the track and working behind the scenes to deliver just that.

“While most of the railway network will be open as usual, some routes will be closed, so if you are thinking about travelling please plan ahead.”

Thirteen million leisure trips are expected to be taken by car between Friday and Sunday, according to RAC research, making it the busiest May Day bank holiday on the roads since 2016.

Friday is set to see the most traffic with 4.4 million leisure trips being made, as many people embark on a getaway to make the most of the three-day weekend.

Drivers are urged to avoid travelling between 4pm and 7pm to avoid the worst queues.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Despite it looking like the weather will take an usually cold turn for the start of May – certainly after the recent Easter heatwave – our figures suggest drivers are still keen to make the most of the long weekend, with significantly more saying they are planning a leisure trip by car this year than in recent years.

“However, there is a risk that drivers will suffer their own motoring mayday if they are not careful, since the colder nights we’re about to experience could be enough to cause some older car batteries to finally give up the ghost.

“Luckily, temperatures will rise during the day and it isn’t due to be a washout.

“The advice is again to try to use the roads when they are quieter, which primarily means avoiding Friday afternoon and evening if possible, and setting off earlier on Saturday, especially if travelling any great distance.”

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