Heathrow Airport passengers face transport disruption over the festive period as rail and tube links are shut down due to engineering works.
Network Rail, the UK's national rail operator, said it would be conducting signalling, track and HS2 work between Paddington in London and Slough on December 25 and 26, which means no trains will serve Heathrow on those days.
Meanwhile, Transport for London (TfL) is suspending the Piccadilly line of the London Underground between Heathrow and Acton Town for seven days from December 24.
The combination of the work being carried out by Network Rail and TfL means no rail or London Underground services will operate to or from the UK’s busiest airport on December 25 and 26.
Public transport across the UK traditionally shuts down on December 25 but services normally operate to and from Heathrow on December 26, which is one of the airport’s busiest days of the year.
The airport has also been hit by lengthy queues in recent months due to its malfunctioning e-gates system, which it blamed on surging passenger numbers as lockdowns were lifted and international travel began to make a recovery.
Heathrow introduced a £5 ($7) fee for cars dropping off passengers at terminal forecourts on November 1.
A TfL spokesman said: “The festive period is one of the quietest times of the year on public transport and carrying out these essential works on the Piccadilly line over this period will minimise the disruption as much as possible.
“We’d like to reassure customers that alternative travel options will be in place, with replacement coach services operating non-stop between Hammersmith and Heathrow.
“Replacement buses will also be available between Acton Town and Heathrow for local stations.
“We have been working with Network Rail on the comprehensive alternative transport plan and have also been working with Heathrow Airport to ensure they can support customers travelling to and from the airport on Boxing Day.”
Other routes affected by Network Rail’s engineering work over the festive period include:
– Southern’s Gatwick Airport trains will operate to and from London Bridge instead of London Victoria between December 25 and January 3.
– No services between London King’s Cross and Finsbury Park on December 25 and December 26.
Passengers can find out whether their journeys are affected through their train operator or National Rail Enquiries.
Network Rail said the 370 engineering projects it is carrying out over the Christmas period have been planned “months, and in some cases years, in advance” and that more than 95 per cent of Britain’s rail network would remain open throughout the festive season.
“While some essential work is taking place to upgrade our railway over the festive period, we’ve worked hard with train operators to reduce the impact on passengers as far as possible so that they can spend time with their families and friends this Christmas," said Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive.
“I’d like to thank the thousands of rail workers who will be working to keep services running and those delivering upgrades to improve our railway and bring more reliable journeys to passengers in future.”