Fewer trains at Christmas

DRIVERS hoping to let the train take the strain this holiday have been warned that most of the rail network will be closing for two days, services will stop earlier than normal on Christmas Eve, and engineering work will also affect some routes.

By Graham Dines

DRIVERS hoping to let the train take the strain this holiday have been warned that most of the rail network will be closing for two days, services will stop earlier than normal on Christmas Eve, and engineering work will also affect some routes.

Anglia Railways' will operate a normal weekday InterCity service from London to Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Diss, Norwich – including the direct 16.27 Liverpool Street to Lowestoft via Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Beccles – until late afternoon on December 24.

Its 17.30 service will make an additional stop at Colchester and the 18.30 will call at Manningtree. The only other services that evening depart at 19.30 and 20.30 – cancelled are the scheduled 18.00, 18.27, 18.42, 19.00, 20.00 (to Bury St Edmunds), 21.30, 22.30pm and 11.30.

Restaurant car facilities will not be available after the 10.30 departure, and are then suspended until January 5.

In the return direction, services to London will run as timetable up until and including the 13.30 departure from Stowmarket, which also calls at Ipswich and Manningtree.

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Trains to London will run as follows (Ipswich departure times): 14.41, 15.14, 15.41, 16.41, 17.41, until the last service at 18.41. Cancelled are the 14.14, 16.14, 17.14, 18.16, 19.41, 20.46, and 21.52 trains, as well as the 23.05 service from Norwich to Diss, Stowmarket, and Ipswich.

Christmas Eve services from Ipswich and Liverpool Street to Harwich International for the morning sailing to Holland will operate as scheduled. With the afternoon crossing cancelled, the evening train from Harwich International to London will not run but there will be a departure to Ipswich.

Great Eastern will operate normal services until midday on Christmas Eve and then trains will run to a Sunday timetable until the following last departures from Liverpool Street: 19.45 to Ipswich, 20.32 to Braintree, 20.47 to Clacton, and 21.17 to Colchester.

Anglia's branch network will see the following last departures on the 24th: 20.20 Ipswich to Felixstowe, 20.55 Felixstowe-Ipswich, 20.16 Ipswich to Lowestoft, 20.22 Lowestoft to Ipswich, 20.17 Ipswich to Cambridge via Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket, 21.43 Cambridge to Ipswich, 18.10 Ipswich to Peterborough, 20.05 Peterborough to Ipswich.

The last northbound GNER services leave Peterborough at 17.44 for Glasgow, 18.44 for Edinburgh, 19.44 for York and Newcastle, and 20.14 for Doncaster and Leeds.

The only exception to the Christmas shutdown is the Stansted Express, which on Boxing Day will operate every half-hour from Liverpool Street starting at 04.30 until 23.30, returning from the airport every 30 minutes between 05.30 and 0.130.

When services resume on December 27, buses will replace trains on the Diss to Norwich route on Saturday and Sunday. From Monday until New Year's Eve, a normal weekday service will operate to and from the capital with the exception of 08.07 from Ipswich to Liverpool Street and the 18.27 from London.

The 18.30 will also call at Manningtree but on December 31, the 18.42 from London is also cancelled. Great Eastern will run as normal from December 27 to noon on the 31st, when a Saturday timetable will be followed until midnight.

Late night revellers living in mid Essex can catch a special service on New Year's Day at 01.15 from Liverpool Street, calling at Stansted Mountflitchet, Elsenham, Newport and Audley End on its way to Cambridge.

AN advance warning of Sunday travel misery has been issued for the New Year. From January 4 until May 16, buses will replace all trains on the East Anglia line to and from Witham and London, adding around an hour to journey times.

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