August Bank Holiday train delays and how to avoid them

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Image caption,
Passengers across the UK have faced disruption throughout August

Major disruption on the railways will peak this weekend, with key stations in London, and services to and from Wales and the north of England due to be heavily affected by engineering work. So how do you avoid a bank holiday headache?

How is London affected?

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There have been a number of closures throughout August, with Londoners, tourists and commuters all affected.

However, there are likely to be increased headaches over the bank holiday weekend.

There will be no trains to London on the West Coast Mainline on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 August, and Euston Station will close entirely.

As part of the HS2 high-speed rail project, engineers will install a new power supply at the station.

"Significant maintenance work" will also be carried out between Watford Junction and Euston at the same time.

London Waterloo has already seen some of the worst problems in August, with fewer trains running from Saturday 5. Work will continue until Monday 28, as part of a £800m project to increase capacity at the station.

Work includes the extension of station platforms, with platforms one to nine closed for entire period.

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Platforms 10 to 19 will be open as usual, but are likely to be very busy, while platforms 20 to 24 have been temporarily opened to provide extra room.

Train users have been urged to avoid morning and evening rush hours, or to either work from home or "take a holiday".

Work on the Crossrail project will also affect services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, Ingatestone and Billericay from Saturday 26 to Monday 28.

From Saturday 27 August to Saturday 2 September, work on the Thameslink Programme will take place at London Bridge, Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations.

It will affect services to and from the stations, with passengers urged to use alternative routes.

Is it just London?

Unfortunately not. Works are also being carried out in the North-West, South Wales and the Midlands.

Those travelling on Great Western services between London Paddington and Wales from Saturday 19 August to Friday 15 September have been told to plan ahead due to electrification work between Swindon and Bristol Parkway.

Services between Newport and Cardiff will be reduced between 19 August and 3 September 2017, while "essential electrification work" is carried out, with no trains at all over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

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Several platforms have closed at London's Waterloo station

Services between Manchester and Preston will also be affected due to work to upgrade Bolton station between Saturday 12 and Sunday 27 August.

Most train services will not run in or out of Bolton until the first service on Monday 28, but trains will still run from Bolton to Blackburn and Clitheroe on weekdays.

A rail replacement service will also run between Tamworth and Derby on the Cross Country route on Sunday 27, as well as between Rugeley Trent Valley and Walsall on Sunday 27 and Monday 28.

There are also some minor works taking place in Scotland during the evenings and weekends this month.

Rugby League woes?

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Rugby League fans are set to be among those worst affected by the works.

The game's showpiece cup final, the Challenge Cup, will be played between Hull and Wigan Warriors at Wembley Stadium on 26 August.

But Wigan fans hoping to travel to the capital on the train will have to avoid Euston station, with the club saying it is "unable to run official train packages this year" due to the closure.

All official travel will instead be by coach.

Closures could also affect some Premier League football matches in London across the bank holiday weekend, including Crystal Palace v Swansea City on Saturday, and both Chelsea v Everton and Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley on Sunday.

Other major events in the capital over the bank holiday weekend include the Notting Hill Carnival.

Why so many works?

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Crossrail will link Reading and Heathrow, to the west of London, with Shenfield and Abbey Wood

August's delays and closures are being caused by some of the biggest rail projects under way in the UK, including HS2 and Crossrail.

Network Rail says the work is part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, to cut overcrowding and congestion on key lines.

It says passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years - more than the current rail network was designed to serve - with that number set to double again in the next 25.

Benefits of its summer programme of work will include longer, faster and more frequent trains, a better, more reliable service, and improved facilities, it added.

But why August?

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Network Rail says the timing of work will affect fewer customers

For many, the sight of a rail replacement bus service trundling over the horizon during the summer will come as little surprise.

Along with the Christmas and Easter breaks, the bank holiday weekend in August is one of the most popular times to carry out rail works.

Network Rail says carrying out essential works over bank holidays, at weekends and overnight causes the least amount of disruption for train users.

"Even though it might seem strange to carry out work at Christmas - when people are travelling to see friends and family - on average, around half the usual five million people travel by train each day during the Christmas period," it says.

So we might have to get used to it.

So how do I plan ahead?

Network Rail is probably the best place for advice and also to plan journeys, although individual rail firms and operators have also published a raft of advice on how to dodge the delays.

Of the main closures, South West Trains says timetables for the period of works are available at London Waterloo.

Likewise, London Midland and Virgin Trains - which operate on the West Coast Mainline into Euston - have also published details of the services they are running over the bank holiday weekend.