Those planing to travel by train during the Christmas period are being urged to book "as early as possible" to avoid being denied entry on to trains.

Large numbers of the country are expected to travel during the Christmas bubbling period and with capacity on board trains "substantially reduced" to enable social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, people without pre-booked tickets are not allowed to travel.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) issued the warning ahead of its release of tickets for the festive period on Friday.

The operator, which runs trains on the East Coast Main Line between London King's Cross and Scotland, expects its Christmas Eve services to quickly sell out.

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Capacity on board trains is "substantially reduced" to enable social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, and people without pre-booked tickets are not allowed to travel.

Network Rail has also warned that "a considerable amount of engineering work will be taking place during the holiday period."

London King's Cross station will also be closed for six days from Christmas Day as part of the £1.2 billion upgrade of the East Coast Main Line.

National Rail said they also strongly recommend buying your ticket early and to reserve a seat.

An LNER spokesman said: "We understand the disruption this engineering work may cause to Christmas plans this year, so we are urging our customers to plan and book their travel as early as possible."

On Tuesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people should consider not travelling by train at Christmas.

He told BBC Breakfast: "We have got to understand there are limitations to the (rail) network caused by, for example, things like the need on some trains to pre-book tickets at this time, in order to prevent overcrowding.

"So we are going to be appealing to people to look very carefully at the transport route they take and of course even making a choice about whether they travel at all."

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Avanti West Coast, which operates trains on the West Coast Main Line, is releasing its Advance fares in the coming days.

These cheaper tickets are usually available 12 weeks in advance, but their release has been delayed during the pandemic due to short-notice timetable changes.

Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road last month said companies must do more to keep travellers informed.

National Rail issued this Christmas Travel Advice.

"As per the latest government advice you can travel to meet those in your Christmas bubble and return home between 23 and 27 December.

"You may travel between tiers and other nations of the UK if necessary to meet with other households in your Christmas bubble or return home.

"Once at your destination, you should follow the rules in that tier. If you are travelling you can travel with confidence by:

  • Booking your tickets in advance and reserving a seat wherever you can
  • Travelling at quieter times
  • Wear a face covering on trains and in stations, unless you are exempt
  • Wash your hands before and after your journey
  • Keep your distance where you can
  • Sign up for personalised travel alerts about your journey

'Rail companies are still in the process of confirming Christmas timetables, which means some train times are still to be confirmed. Once train times are confirmed Advanced tickets will begin to appear in the National Rail journey planner. If tickets for your chosen journey haven’t been made available yet, most train companies will let you set-up a ticket alert and email you when tickets are available to buy.'