Holiday weekend rail passengers face their toughest few days yet as the line between Northampton and London Euston shuts for THREE DAYS next month.
Work on the new HS2 terminus, the East West Rail route at Bletchley and at Watford means there will be no trains anywhere south of Milton Keynes Central between Friday night and Tuesday morning, April 30 to May 4.
Instead, those passengers who must travel — including key workers — will be bussed between MK and north London to use London Underground and Overground services into the capital, massively extending journey times.
■ London Northwestern Railway and Avanti West Coast services will start / terminate at Milton Keynes Central.
■ Replacement buses will run between Stanmore and Milton Keynes Central — calling at Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring — to connect with Jubilee line services to Central London.
■ A special half-hourly train service will run between Milton Keynes Central, Northampton and Birmingham.
■ East Midlands Railway or Thameslink trains between Kettering, Wellingborough and Bedford to St Pancras International are also affected by work on the new Brent Cross station.
The three-day closure comes just as passenger numbers are picking up after more than three months of near-empty trains during lockdown.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, admitted: “There is never an ideal time to shut the railway and we have worked hard to minimise disruption across the spring and summer – including moving work over the Easter and Spring bank holidays.
“It is fantastic to see more passengers return to the railway and we want to make journeys as easy as possible for those travelling over bank holidays. We are carefully balancing that with the need to carry out essential railway improvements and maintenance to provide a safe and reliable railway for the future.
“The scale of work planned this May will mean changes for passengers, but we’re working with train companies to minimise disruption to people as much as possible.”
Passengers who must travel over the holiday weekend are being advised to check National Rail Enquiries journey planner for up-to-date times.
Network Rail brought forward some planned bank holiday projects, carrying out work in record-breaking time at Crick tunnel in Northamptonshire and in North London while fewer people were travelling.
That allowed Euston to stay open at Easter and over the late-May bank holiday. But a three-day closure for work to prepare it for HS2, Britain’s new high-speed railway, could not be avoided.
The bank holiday weekend also marks a major milestone for the East West Rail project as work continues to reinstate a route between Oxford and Bletchley for the first time in more than 50 years.
Huge steel beams will be lifted across all four lines of the West Coast main line as a flyover is rebuilt, which involves dismantling the 25,000 volt overhead line system which powers electric trains.