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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
8 Apr 2023


Queues at Stansted Airport train station in Essex
Queues at Stansted Airport train station in Essex Credit: Bav Media

Families are facing a ruined Easter weekend as three of London's major rail stations are shut down thanks to engineering works.

No trains are running to or from London Euston until Tuesday, Charing Cross station is closed on Saturday and Sunday, while London Victoria has axed most services until Tuesday. 

It has thrown travel plans into chaos, given the stations respectively serve as the main hubs for northern England and the Midlands, Kent and the wider south-east.

Network Rail was accused of causing "untold misery" in the latest blight on the Easter getaway, with badly-timed engineering works "as predictable as the first daffodil in spring".

Dozens of areas affected

The taxpayer body has planned such works across the four-day weekend at the three terminus stations, despite it being a school holiday with thousands of families heading to the capital.

A total of 29 areas are hit by engineering works across the country this weekend, including Birmingham, Rotherham, Cambridge, Cardiff and Reading, with many passengers forced to use replacement bus services instead.

Rail passengers hit out at 'mayhem' at St Pancras on Good Friday
Rail passengers hit out at 'mayhem' at St Pancras on Good Friday Credit: @RooPritchard/Twitter

It comes after scenes of mass overcrowding at St Pancras and Marylebone on Good Friday.

Those among London Gatwick Airport's 90,000 daily passengers hoping to take the usual 25-minute direct Gatwick Express train to London Victoria finding that instead, they must take a train and two tubes, lasting an hour, as Southern has cancelled all Victoria services too.

'Terrible planning'

John Stewart, chairman of the Campaign for Better Transport, told The Telegraph: "This is terrible planning by the railways -- they know this is one of the busiest weekends of the year and trying to leave a London station is trying to get out on the last flight from Saigon."

Mr Stewart, speaking in a personal capacity, added: "This will cause untold misery for travellers at the very time they are expecting to have an enjoyable Easter weekend.

The chaos has been blamed on widespread engineering works taking place over Easter
The chaos has been blamed on widespread engineering works taking place over Easter Credit: Marcin Nowak/London News Pictures

"No lessons have been learned and it's even worse right now because they know that since Covid the leisure market has picked up big time -- it's the business market which is struggling.

"Every year, it's as predictable as the first daffodil in spring. It is time that the railways start to put passengers first and not their own convenience."

Crossrail opens - then closes again

The new £19 billion Elizabeth Line in London has axed all services through central London until April 11, less than half a year after it fully opened, while five other London Underground lines and the London Overground partly closed too.

On Friday, passengers faced three-hour delays at St Pancras as pictures showed huge crowds. Ruaridh Pritchard, 33, a writer, said it was "mayhem" with "lots of people arguing and pushing - it was like the last train out of Saigon... I've lost half a day of Easter."

Chaos at Marylebone Station in London on Good Friday
Chaos at Marylebone Station in London on Good Friday Credit: Martyn Wheatley / i-Images

Meanwhile, Sophie Earish, 26, a student from Wembley Park, who faced a 90-minute wait for a train north and Tube delays, said: "I didn't realise Euston was closed this weekend causing this mess.

"Why do they think it's acceptable to do engineering works over the Easter weekend? It's ridiculous, it seems to be the same every year."

Network Rail was contacted for comment. A blame game has also begun at the Port of Dover after long delays persisted all week for ferry passengers, with France on Friday insisting the UK, not French border officials, are responsible. The port was free-flowing on Saturday morning.