With 500 rail upgrade engineering works planned for Christmas, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says rail bosses must avoid a repeat of last year’s chaos
Rail bosses have been warned they will face fines if there is a repeat of last year’s travel chaos this Christmas.
Figures show that 500 separate engineering projects – more than last year – are planned for the rail network over the Christmas and New Year holiday.
Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, has told executives from Network Rail that they must work to ensure passengers do not suffer the delays that hit major stations in London 12 months ago.
In 2014, engineering work overran, leading to long delays, cancellations and overcrowding on platforms for tens of thousands of people travelling through Kings Cross, Paddington and Finsbury Park stations in London.
Network Rail was fined £2million for the catastrophic failures from works at London Bridge, which began at New Year. This fine was later dropped after Network Rail agreed instead to pay £4.1 million into a new fund to improve passengers’ services.
Speaking The Telegraph, Mr McLoughlin said: “Last year the disruption on the railways, and chaos at London Bridge station, was totally unacceptable. I’ve made it clear to rail bosses that if there’s a repeat of last years chaos the consequences will be dire.
“Thousands of transport workers will spend their Christmases working to improve our railways: I don’t want to see their hard work go to waste.”
Some 20,000 railway engineers are due to be working on improvements to the network on Christmas Day, at 500 separate projects.
Network Rail says the vast majority of passengers will be able to use the railways as normal, with most of the engineering works causing no impact on customers.
Rail executives say Christmas is a quieter period, meaning fewer people’s journeys will be disrupted than at other times of year.
Government research has found that on average, severe winter weather costs the economy £130 million a day, through disruption to transport and businesses. This winter, councils have stockpiled more than two million tonnes of salt for gritting the roads.
Heathrow Airport has invested £36 million and Gatwick £15 million in measures to prepare for winter weather in the last five years.
Mr McLoughlin said: “You can never stop extreme weather from causing disruption but we’re making sure Britain is prepared for it when it comes.
“Mountains of salt, fleets of snow ploughs and an army of workers will spend the winter making sure that Britain keeps on moving. It will be a mammoth effort.”
Article taken from the Telegraph