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Major disruption for rail passengers over Christmas

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers in the South East are preparing to face 10 days of major disruption over the festive break because of engineering works.

The lines from Brighton and Kent to London will be the worst hit.

From late on Christmas Eve until the New Year the region's key lines to the capital will be closed when 20,000 engineers work to upgrade track and signals.

The biggest disruption will be on the line to London Bridge.

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse has been to the station to see what work will be done and how the £6.5 billion upgrade of the station is progressing.

Railway elves hand out mince pies to passengers

Passengers on the Chiltern line in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire have been getting into the festive spirit with thousands of mince pies being handed out by staff dressed as elves.

The company say it's to wish passengers a merry Christmas and bring a bit of festive cheer.

The company is the only one in the region to run services on Boxing Day and is not affected by engineering works that will hit Great Western, Southern and South West Trains.

Interview with Chad Collins Chiltern Railways

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Rail passengers prepare for disruption over Christmas

Hundreds of thousands of train passengers who use Great Western are facing major disruption over Christmas with some services taking up to 90 minutes longer than usual.

From late on Christmas Eve the line from Reading into Paddington will close for four days with services diverted to Waterloo.

Network Rail say 20,000 engineers will be out working on the lines. But passengers fear a repeat of the chaos last Christmas when engineering work overran. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

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Oxford barrister 'could be biggest rail fare dodger in UK'

A barrister from Oxford, thought to be the biggest train fare dodger to be prosecuted in the UK, will appear in court so that the losses caused can be determined.

Peter Barnett, 44, is said to have spent more than two years avoiding paying for his ticket, causing a loss of £23,000 to Chiltern Railways.

He regularly travelled from his Oxford home to London Marylebone but pretended to have only travelled from Wembley, north-west London.

Barnett argues that he only dodged up to £9,714.40, saying that the amount should be based on the cost of a weekly ticket and take into account annual leave.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told: "If it is accepted that the loss was £23,000, this defendant would be convicted of the biggest rail evasion case that has come to the court in the United Kingdom."

Barnett admits six counts of fraud by false representation.

Longer platforms, longer trains

Start of work to extend platform at Hever Stn Credit: Network Rail

The Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat has formally marked the start of a project that will extend twelve station platforms between Edenbridge and Uckfield. The project will allow the introduction of 10-coach trains that will reduce crowding on the Uckfield line and help to meet growing passenger demand. The new longer trains will increase capacity on the line during the morning peak by 50% from July 2016.

Network Rail will build the longer platforms and infrastructure, and Southern Railway will lease, refurbish and run the trains.

“I am pleased that the platform extensions on the Uckfield line are taking place and will be completed soon. This will mean that commuters and other rail users will be able to have a more comfortable journey as trains are able to take extra carriages. Work is now underway and this will be a huge benefit to the local community in providing a better train service. I look forward to the completion of the work early next year”.

– Tom Tugendhat MP

Radical plans could ease overcrowding on trains

Commuters in the Thames Valley have long complained of severe overcrowding on the trains.

But that could be about to change. First Great Western says it has listened - and in a radical move the rail operator is to rip out most of its first class carriages.

That should provide an extra 3,500 seats a week. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

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