More than 150 railway workers and engineers will upgrade the railway between London, Gatwick Airport and the south coast this Christmas as Network Rail invests £80m on the Brighton mainline.
Between Christmas Day and January 2 2014, three upgrades at London Victoria, Gatwick Airport and a major junction between Redhill and Purley will take place which will impact Southern, First Capital Connect and First Great Western services in the area.
The work aims to deliver long-term benefits to passengers including a more reliable infrastructure, which will help to reduce disruption, and more platforms at Gatwick Airport which will provide greater flexibility for services calling at the station from February 2014.
The work means there will be increases in journey times of up to 90 minutes between London and Gatwick Airport.
Passengers are advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk/christmas before travelling or follow Network Rail, National Rail or affected train operators on twitter for the latest details.
As a result of the work, the Gatwick Express will not operate from December 25 to January 1. On Boxing Day, Southern will run services between London Bridge and Gatwick Airport (via East Grinstead where buses continue to Gatwick), and from December 27 to January 1, Southern will operate services between London Victoria and Gatwick.
Normal Gatwick Express services will resume on January 2.
From December 27 to January 1, First Capital Connect services to and from London Bridge will not run between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport, with alternative routes adding 70-90 minutes to passengers’ journeys.
Adrian Witherow, head of terminals at London Gatwick, said: “We have been working closely with Network Rail and the train operating companies to help minimise disruption to rail passengers travelling through Gatwick during the festive period. We advise passengers to check updates before they travel and to allow extra time for their journey to and from the airport, which could take an extra two hours.”
Tim Robinson, Network Rail’s route managing director for the Sussex route, said: “These three upgrades have been carefully planned to take place at the same time over Christmas and the New Year to keep disruption to a minimum. If we had carried out the work at weekends, there would have been up to 15 months of weekend disruption, affecting many more passengers for a much longer amount of time.
“Passengers should check before they travel to find out how the work will impact their journeys and use social media and websites to find the latest information. Together with the train operators and Gatwick Airport, we will continue to provide reminders to reach as many passengers as possible to help keep disruption to a minimum.”