Rail passengers looking to travel on Boxing Day have been advised to check before they travel as an extensive schedule of planned works kicked off on Monday (26 December). Routes out of London Liverpool Street, Charing Cross, Canon Street, Paddington and Waterloo were all set to be affected, as well as Manchester and Cardiff.

Services affected by the large-scale engineering works included Arriva Trains Wales, c2C, CrossCountry, East Midlands, Grand Central, Great Northern, Great Western, London Midland, Northern Rail, South West, Thameslink, TransPennine Express and Virgin. Both Gatwick and Heathrow Express services would be affected by the works.

In a year that has seen major problems with some train operators, the government was faced criticism from the opposition for its failure to take action against failing train operators. Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "In opposition the Tories attacked the Boxing Day rail shutdown. They've now had more than six years to do something about it but haven't.

"Their lack of action, even despite the chaos of previous years, gives the impression they don't really care about it at all. The Tory hypocrisy on this issue is astounding."

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said it was not for government to decide on a schedule for planned engineering works, though it recognised the works would impact on those making use of the service. The official said: "We have worked with the rail industry to ensure there are limited services on some franchises on that day, and that the scope for Boxing Day services is considered when we are planning future franchises.

"Network Rail and train companies have ensured that a large part of the railway will remain open over the Christmas/New Year period and alternative routes are provided where the lines are closed for essential engineering work, and that these are communicated properly to the public."

Network Rail says it carries out engineering works on bank holidays because the relatively few passengers making use of the service means "the inevitable disruption affects fewer people". However, that will no doubt be of little consolation to those who do need to travel, with significant increase in fares expected in January 2017.

Meanwhile Southern Rail passengers look set to endure further disruption in the remaining days of a year that has seen ongoing, major problems for the operator. Industrial action by members of the ASLEF and RMT unions contributed to a truncated service, with planned strike action set to take place between December 31 to January 2. More action is planned for the new year, with strikes expected again between January 9 and 14.

Elsewhere, hot on the heels of Storm Barbara, Storm Conor is expected to add to further commuter misery as high winds and snow look set to batter northern parts of the UK, particularly northern Scotland. Travellers are urged to check weather conditions before setting out on their journeys.

storm barbara
Waves crash onto the tracks as a train travels on the northbound line from Saltcoats in Ayrshire, Scotland as Storm Barbara hit the British coastline on FridayGetty