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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.

Massive increase in Great Western Main Line cost

The cost of electrifying the line has almost tripled Credit: ITV

It's emerged that the cost of electrifying the Great Western Main Line between London, Reading, Oxford and Newbury is now £2.8bn. The cost has almost tripled since the first estimates put the cost of upgrading the route at £874m.

The project timescales have also disintegrated, and the Department for Transport has openly admitted that the earlier deadline of 2018 can no longer be counted on.

The latest revelations came as the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee took evidence from Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne, DfT permanent secretary Philip Rutnam and the chief executive of the Office of Rail and Road, Richard Price.

Large fall in Great Western Railway complaints

A large fall in complaints for Great Western Railway Credit: ITV

Complaints about rail services have seen the biggest drop in the country on Great Western Railway, but a big rise on Chiltern.

Great Western Railway saw a 31 per cent reduction according to regulator, the Office For Road and Rail for the last three months.

It follows an improvement in trains on time after a series of engineering work overruns and signal problems between Reading and London earlier in the year.


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.

Check before travel: First Great Western trains strike

Revised timetable in place on First great Western due to strike

Workers at First Great Western trains are taking part in a three-day strike over the Bank Holiday weekend. The walkout is causing disruption for travellers. The firm is advising people to check before they head out.

The walkout is part of the RMT union's protest over the introduction of new Hitachi inter-city trains. It follows a 48-hour strike last month and 24 hours of action last week Sunday which led to widespread disruption to services.

The industrial action has not stopped thousands of music fans who turned up for the Reading Festival which started on Thursday. The challenge for the festival-goers will be getting home on Bank Holiday Monday after the event ends.

First Great Western rail 24 hour strike goes ahead

This is the first of a series of strikes Credit: ITV Meridian

First Great Western say they hope to run around seventy per cent of services today despite a strike by members of the RMT union.

The company say worst hit will be long distance trains which pass through Reading, Swindon and Didcot. But many services in the Thames Valley are running.

Passengers are advised to check before they travel. The long running row is over the introduction of new high speed trains.

The strike will end at midnight.

But this is the first of a series of strikes that will hit millions of passengers over the next nine days.

On Tuesday the RMT have called a 24 hour walk-out on the London Underground starting at 1830. This will hit the rush hour that day and on Wednesday. Some Chiltern services in Buckinghamshire that share tube tracks will be hit.

On Thursday another 24 hour strike is due to start on the tube at 1830 hitting the evening rush hour on that day and all of Friday.

Around 500,000 passengers from the region who commute to London then use the tube to get to work.

The dispute is over running tube services overnight.

There is also a three day strike planned at First Great Western for next weekend which will badly affect the Reading Festival.

Final talks to try to resolve the separate disputes will be held tomorrow.

FGW strike set to go ahead after talks broke down

Staff who work for First Great Western will walk out on Sunday Credit: PA

A strike by workers at First Great Western, which runs services across the South East and Thames Valley is set to go ahead this weekend after talks failed to resolve a row over new trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out for 24 hours on Sunday, disrupting services.

"We have held a positive meeting with the RMT and while, disappointingly, no agreement has been reached, we plan to meet again on Monday. This means that the strike action planned by the RMT on Sunday is likely to go ahead.

"Trains will run to an amended timetable, with around 70% of our regular Sunday service running. Customers should check before they travel.

"The brand new Super Express Trains will deliver more seats, faster journey times and more frequent journeys for our passengers. Our plans mean more train managers and customer hosts on board our trains, not less."

– First Great Western spokesman
First Great Western staff striking Credit: ITV News

"Despite strenuous efforts we have failed to reach an agreement with First Great Western on the fundamental issues at the heart of the dispute over the introduction of the new Hitachi trains. As a result the action this Sunday goes ahead. The union remains available for talks."

– A union spokesman

Union members are also due to strike over the Bank Holiday weekend. The union says new trains will lead to job losses and cuts to on board catering facilities.

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