Rail travellers are facing major disruption over the Christmas period due to engineering works on the West Coast main line.
Network Rail is using the holiday period to make essential repairs.
But passengers have been warned that sections of the express route from Lancashire to London will be shut down for up to four days.
The company today issued an apology to rail users in advance for the inconvenience caused at a time when many travellers take the opportunity to visit family and friends over the festive season.
“There is never a good time to carry out this type of work and we have liaised closely with the train operators to plan for it to take place at a traditionally quieter time on the railway,” said Jim Syddall, acting route managing director for Network Rail.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused but the work is essential to improve the network and maintain reliable services for the millions of passengers who travel on the West Coast main line every year.”
The work means the line will be shut between Euston Station in London and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire after the last trains on Christmas Eve until Monday December 29.
It will also be closed between Stafford and Crewe after the last trains on Christmas Eve until Sunday 28 December. Both will effect trains between the county and London.
The closures are necessary as work continues on improvements in the Watford area and between Stafford and Crewe.
To minimise disruption Network Rail, Virgin Trains and London Midland are advising passengers to avoid the West Coast main line and use alternative routes.
The West Coast closure is just one of a number of disruptions to services over Christmas and the New Year as Network Rail carry out a major programme of engineering work.
On December 27/28 engineering work taking place between Edge Hill and Earlestown/St Helens Central is closing some lines in the North West.
Buses will replace trains on Arriva Wales services between Shrewsbury and Hereford from December 27 to 29.