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Coach operator National Express will run its biggest ever Christmas service

Coach operator National Express will run its biggest ever Christmas service this year amid severe disruption on the rail network due to engineering work.

The firm will operate 50% more services on Christmas Day compared with 2015, serving 64 towns,cities and airports across Britain.

Eleven of the destinations will receive a December 25 service for the first time, including Brighton, Colchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ipswich.

Britain’s rail network shuts down on Christmas Day, and there is a limited service on Boxing Day,

Network Rail, which manages Britain’s rail infrastructure, is carrying out up to 200 improvement projects during the festive period – meaning a number of lines will be closed.

Work on some schemes will begin on Christmas Eve – which falls on a Saturday – to give engineers and maintenance teams four days to carry out upgrades before the next working day.

London, Manchester and Cardiff are among the cities affected.

An extra 60,000 seats will be available on National Express coaches between December 19 and January 2 compared with last year.

Tom Stables, a managing director at the coach company, said: “It’s our biggest Christmas ever and we’re in gear to get people where they need to be over the holiday period and help tens of thousands of people to travel, including on Christmas Day itself.

“With no public transport and the annual rail shutdown, there was a time when Christmas Day travel was virtually off-limits to all but those with access to a car.

“We’ve changed this with our unrivalled national network of coaches connecting towns and cities across the UK.”

Crossrail engineering work means no trains will operate to or from London Paddington between December 24 and December 29, resulting in the Heathrow Express being suspended for six days.

Major upgrades of signalling, track and overhead lines mean bus replacements and diversions will be in place for services to and from London Liverpool Street from December 24 to January 2.

But more than 95% of the rail network will remain open during the festive period, Network Rail said.

It added that although engineering work is carried out throughout the year, larger upgrades usually take place over bank holidays as up to 50% fewer passengers travel on those days.

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