The August bank holiday is set to be a busy one, with millions planning getaways for home and away, but travellers have been warned of a flurry of rail work planned in the capital over the weekend.
Network Rail is carrying out the biggest weekend of engineering works it has ever planned, worth £133m, and services from all directions into London will be disrupted.
It comes as new figures forecast a surge in travel, with Gatwick predicting its busiest bank holiday yet. A total of 631,000 passengers are expected to travel through the airport this weekend, edging up 0.9 per cent on last year’s figures. The airport also announced a sharp increase in passengers travelling stateside.
The number of long-haul passengers departing from the airport is expected to rise by 14 per cent compared to last year’s bank holiday weekend. Gatwick said the most popular destinations are New York, Boston, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
However, many holidaymakers are seeking to avoid the hassle of flying. According to VisitEngland figures, 7m Britons are planning a “staycation” this weekend. This figure is up by almost 2m on last year’s figures. The tourist board is forecasting a £1.7bn to the UK economy thanks to those opting to stay in the UK.
But travellers have been warned that hefty rail work over the period will cause travel troubles.
Mark Carne, Network Rail's chief executive, has urged travellers to plan ahead, but said that the works will mean that passengers will be "one step closer to experiencing real benefits by the end of this year”.
August bank holiday rail works:
Euston station will have no services in or out of it for the whole weekend due to HS2 works.
Fewer trains have been running at Waterloo since 5 August amid huge upgrade work, while an extra day of work – Thursday 24 August – has been added on due to disruption from a partial train derailment last week. The work is due to be finished by Tuesday 29 August.
Major engineering work is happening around London Bridge, resulting in significant disruption. Starting this Saturday 26 August, there will be no Southeastern trains at London Charing Cross, Waterloo, or London Bridge, while on bank holiday Monday there will be no Southeastern trains at London Blackfriars.
On top of this, due to Crossrail works, trains will not run between Ingatestone, Billericay, Shenfield, Barking, and Liverpool Street on Sunday 27 August or Monday 28 August. Due to continued engineering works, there will also be no trains running between Swindon and Bristol Parkway.
Other stations such as St Pancras, Victoria and Marylebone are expected to be much busier than normal as they soak up the rise in alternative journeys people plan.