UK

Conservatives attacked over Boxing Day rail 'standstill'

Empty Paddington Station Image copyright EPA

Labour has accused the Conservatives of "hypocrisy" over the Boxing Day "standstill" on the rail network.

A large number of rail operators are not running any services, with only a limited service operating on others.

Labour said that in opposition the Tories had "attacked the Boxing Day rail shutdown", but done nothing about it while in government.

The Department for Transport said it was for train operators to decide on the level of service on specific days.

Rail operators that are not running services on Boxing Day include Arriva Trains Wales, c2C, CrossCountry, East Midlands, Grand Central, Great Northern, Great Western, London Midland, Northern Rail, South West, Thameslink, TransPennine Express and Virgin.

The Christmas period also sees 200 sets of rail engineering works being carried out, with London, Manchester and Cardiff among the cities hit, and Heathrow Express is also suspended for six days.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "Tory ministers' handling of the Boxing Day rail standstill is making it much harder for families and friends to visit one another this Christmas break.

"In opposition the Tories attacked the Boxing Day rail shutdown. They've now had more than six years to do something about it but haven't.

"Their lack of action, even despite the chaos of previous years, gives the impression they don't really care about it at all. The Tory hypocrisy on this issue is astounding."

Storm disruption warning

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "Deciding the level of service on specific days is a matter for train operators.

"But we know some passengers want to travel on Boxing Day, and that's why we have worked with the rail industry to ensure there are limited services on some franchises on that day, and that the scope for Boxing Day services is considered when we are planning future franchises.

"Network Rail and train companies have ensured that a large part of the railway will remain open over the Christmas/New Year period and alternative routes are provided where the lines are closed for essential engineering work, and that these are communicated properly to the public."

Travellers are also being urged to check weather conditions before setting off as Storm Conor descends on northern parts of the UK.

A yellow "be aware" warning has been issued for western and northern Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England.

After a lull following disruption caused by Storm Barbara, high winds and snow are expected to sweep across parts of northern Scotland, peaking on Boxing Day when gusts could reach 90mph.

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