First Great Western is carrying out 'vital works' to progress the Crossrail, Electrification and Reading projects, which will impact train services to and from London over Christmas.

The train company is encouraging passengers to check journey times before they travel and says it is working to minimise disruption to passengers.

Alterations are as follows:

Earlier than usual Christmas Eve close-down: Service reductions will start from 1700 for high speed, long distance services; 1500 in the London Thames Valley area, with last trains leaving London Paddington by 2130.

Two service plans for 27 December 2014.

Before 1100:

  • A train shuttle service will operate between Hayes and Harlington and London Paddington
  • A half-hourly train shuttle service will operate between Slough and Oxford
  • A rail replacement bus service will serve all stations between Slough and Hayes and Harlington
  • No Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect services will operate
  • A limited number of High Speed Trains from London Paddington will serve Devon and Cornwall, Bristol and stations to South Wales
  • High speed, intercity, services towards London will terminate at Reading and passengers are advised to use South West Trains services between Reading and London Waterloo before 1045

After 1100 Saturday 27 December and through to Saturday 3 January 2015:

There will be a reduced service from London Paddington. FGW will continue to operate two trains an hour to Bristol Temple Meads, however there will be one service an hour to Swansea, one to Devon and Cornwall, two to Oxford and Worcester and two stopping services in the London Thames Valley

Additional services will be provided in the early hours of the New Year to help revellers return home from the celebrations

Rail replacement bus services will be on the following routes:

  • Reading to Reading West (27 December to Saturday 3 January 2015)
  • Maidenhead to Marlow (28 December and 31 December to 2 January 2015)
  • Slough to Burnham (28 December only)
  • Slough to Burnham, Taplow and Maidenhead (31 December and 1 and 2 January 2015)
  • Didcot to Oxford (Sunday 4 January 2015 only)

First Great Western Managing Director, Mark Hopwood said: "We have been talking to our passengers about these projects for some time and we are grateful to them for their understanding while we work to keep disruption to a minimum. The upgrades are vitally important to improve our customer’s travel experiences both now and for the future, paving the way for faster and more reliable services. A significant step towards that will see the Reading Flyover opened in the New Year, which will remove a bottleneck at one of the busiest locations on our network and reduce delays."

The £45m Reading viaduct is one of the final phases of the Reading Redevelopment project which will separate fast moving trains between London and the West from slower moving freight trains travelling between the South Coast and the Midlands. The new Reading viaduct is due to be in use from Sunday 4 January.

The entire redevelopment project will be completed in summer 2015. This will follow the final installation of track, after the railway to the west of the station is re-modelled over Easter 2015.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route, said: "This work represents a major investment in this part of the rail network and will lead to huge improvements for passengers, including more services and reduced journey times, enhancing their travelling experience. We have been working closely with First Great Western to minimise disruption and ensure the work is completed in as short a timeframe as possible. This is an exciting time for the Great Western route and we ask that you bear with us over the Christmas period as we undertake this extensive improvement work to create a better railway for passengers and those living near to the railway line.”

Passengers should plan their journeys before travelling on the affected dates, by visiting or calling First Great Western’s customer services team on 03457 000 125 for more information.