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Christmas train timetables out now – your rights if facing cancellations

Christmas train timetables out now – your rights if facing cancellations

Train passengers are facing major disruption while travelling over Christmas and New Year with more than 300 sets of engineering works planned.

With Christmas timetables for most routes now published, Network Rail, which manages the rail network across Great Britain, says some 330 projects will take place between Saturday 22 December and Thursday 3 January.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, has insisted there will be less disruption than last year. But it has warned travellers going through London to plan ahead as there are major works planned at Euston, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Victoria stations. 

National Rail says the majority of train firms have now confirmed their services for the Christmas and New Year period. This is later than usual, as normally train timetables are confirmed 12 weeks in advance, but due to timetabling issues this year there's been as little as six weeks' notice in some cases. 

For full help cutting the cost of your train journey, see our Cheap Train Tickets guide.

How do I check if my journey is affected?

If you're planning to travel over the festive period, here's how to check if engineering works are likely to disrupt your journey.

Put the date of travel and train company you're travelling with into National Rail's future work checker to see if there are engineering works on your route. If there are, use the National Rail journey planner to check specific train times.

Here are a few examples of the engineering works planned for major routes:

Train firm Dates More info
c2c, Greater Anglia, London Overground, Stansted Express, TfL Rail 23 Dec to 1 Jan Engineering works in the Greater London/Stratford area and some other points on the Greater Anglia network. Several services not running between London and Shoeburyness, Hertford East, Stansted Airport, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Southend Victoria, Southminster, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Clapham Junction, Richmond and Shenfield. More info
Caledonian Sleeper, London Northwestern Railway, London Overground, Virgin Trains 24 to 30 Dec Engineering work at London Euston, affecting lines from London to Tring, Milton Keynes Central, Northampton, Crewe, Birmingham New Street, West Midlands, Manchester Piccadilly and Chester. More info
East Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway, Northern, Virgin Trains 24 Dec to 1 Jan Engineering works around Warrington Central and Edge Hill, closing several lines.
Gatwick Express, Southern 23 Dec to 2 Jan Engineering works around London Victoria. No Gatwick Express services running, Southern trains diverted. More info
Great Western Railway, Heathrow Express, TfL Rail 27 Dec to 31 Dec Engineering works at London Paddington. All lines closed 23-26 and 30 Dec, two of four lines closed 27-29 and 31 Dec. More info
Great Western Railway, South Western Railway 23 Dec to 3 Jan Engineering works between Trowbridge and Warminster, closing lines around Westbury.
Northern, TransPennine Express 27 Dec to 1 Jan Engineering works around Manchester Victoria. Affects lines between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, Rochdale, Salford Central and across the TransPennine route.

You can also check National Rail's full list of works for each train operator for more information.

What are my rights if my journey will be disrupted?

If you knew about planned engineering work before you booked, then unfortunately you won't be able to claim if your journey takes longer than normal.

If you booked a train before finding out about the disruption, the National Rail Conditions of Travel state that you can decide not to travel and claim a full refund from whoever sold you the ticket (and you won't have to pay any admin fee).

If you do decide to travel anyway you can try to complain, but sadly there's no guarantee of success. Contact your train company and explain what you're asking for (eg, compensation or a new ticket) quoting the Consumer Rights Act, which says your train company must provide its service with reasonable care and skill. There's no guarantees this will work though.

If you're rejected for compensation or a refund but still think you have a case, you can escalate your complaint to Transport Focus.

What if I have a season ticket?

Season ticket holders are unlikely to get a refund due to a change in timetable, as your ticket isn't for any particular train (eg, the 803 to St Pancras).

As you've been informed of the amended timetable in advance, the rail company only has to deliver that service – so if, for example, you have to take a rail replacement bus to get to work, unfortunately you won't be able to claim.

What if there are delays or cancellations under the amended timetable?

In that case, you CAN claim under the usual rules.

If the train you intended to catch is cancelled or delayed versus the amended timetable (not the usual timetable), you can decide not to travel and instead ask for a refund from the train firm running the service – you won't be charged an admin fee.

Alternatively, if you do travel and arrive late (usually 15+ or 30+ minutes late), you may be entitled to compensation – see our Train Delays guide for full help.