Calls to bring back rail service as passengers face a “standstill” on Boxing Day

An Abellio Greater Anglia train. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

An Abellio Greater Anglia train. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Travellers visiting relatives or hitting the Boxing Day sales will face a 'standstill' on the railways due to a 'lack of action' by the Government, Labour said.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald accused the Tories of 'hypocrisy' for attacking Labour over the issue while in opposition but then not taking action in office.

Large parts of the country will be without a rail service on Boxing Day, while some operators will only be running a limited number of trains.

Mr McDonald said: 'Tory ministers' handling of the Boxing Day rail standstill is making it much harder for families and friends to visit one another this Christmas break.

'In opposition the Tories attacked the Boxing Day rail shutdown. They've now had more than six years to do something about it but haven't.

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'Their lack of action, even despite the chaos of previous years, gives the impression they don't really care about it at all. The Tory hypocrisy on this issue is astounding.'

There will be no Boxing Day services from Abellio Greater Anglia, as disruption continues in the region over the festive period.

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Other rail operators which are not running services on Boxing Day include Arriva Trains Wales, c2C, CrossCountry, East Midlands, Grand Central, Great Northern, Great Western, London Midland, Northern Rail, South West, Thameslink, TransPennine Express and Virgin.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: 'Deciding the level of service on specific days is a matter for train operators. But we know some passengers want to travel on Boxing Day, and that's why we have worked with the rail industry to ensure there are limited services on some franchises on that day, and that the scope for Boxing Day services is considered when we are planning future franchises.

'Network Rail and train companies have ensured that a large part of the railway will remain open over the Christmas/New Year period and alternative routes are provided where the lines are closed for essential engineering work, and that these are communicated properly to the public.'

Train company Greater Anglia is reminding customers about details of rail replacement services during Network Rail engineering works.

Engineering work is due to take place until Monday January 2. There are no services at all on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, apart from a special Stansted Express service from 6.30am on Boxing Day.

From Wednesday December 28 to Friday December 30, passengers from Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Braintree, Clacton, Walton-on-the-Naze and Harwich should change at Witham for rail replacement bus services to Stansted where they can catch the Stansted Express to Liverpool Street.

Customers should check timetables on the Greater Anglia website or app for details of last trains, and, in some cases, rail replacement buses, on Christmas Eve.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: 'We apologise to customers for inconvenience caused by Network Rail's engineering works over the Christmas period. This work includes essential upgrades to overhead lines to make the railway more resilient.

'However, the railway is not shut over this time. Our rail replacement services will get passengers to where they need to go on routes affected by engineering works.'

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