‘EXTREMELY noisy’ railway work could disrupt Christmas Day church services and ruin the day for hundreds of people.

Network Rail will carry out 12 hours of signal piling in north Oxford on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Residents and parishioners of St Margaret’s Church – just 300m from the track – have hit out at the plans.

The rail firm said after ‘careful consideration’ it opted to do the work from 8am to 8pm on the two holidays instead of the alternative – six weekends of overnight work in January and February.

Network Rail warned residents the work could be ‘extremely noisy’ but that it would try to complete it as quickly as possible.

The Rev Andrew Bunch, who will be conducting two services at St Margaret’s Church during the piling work on Christmas Day, said: “It really depends on the level of the noise but it will be disruptive for the area, especially when people are expecting it to be quite quiet on a day like Christmas Day.

“I am concerned, the railway line is not that far away from the church at all.”

He added: “One of my parishioners has written to Network Rail and if the response is not very positive I will encourage people to send them a deluge of letters.”

New signal posts will be installed around Walton Well Road Bridge and Sheepwash Channel Bridge – off Rewley Road – with a machine, which NR said was quieter than using a conventional hammer

But it warned hammer piling could be carried out if the machine was unsuccessful.

The section of track between Oxford Station and Wolvercote has been subject to overnight and weekend work on numerous occasions in recent years in the £200m Oxford Corridor Project.

City councillor of St Margaret’s ward, Liz Wade, said: “This stretch of railway, from Wolvercote down to the station, has been bedevilled by noise and vibration for more than two years.

“But Network Rail’s decision to pile drive for twelve hours on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day reaches a new low in their treatment of residents – both trackside and further afield.”

Stuart Skyte, who lives near the track in the Waterside development, said: “I’m very conscious that when railway work is done on ordinary working days it disrupts millions of commuters.

“From a human point of view, in terms of nuisance it’s the right time instead of noise for six weekends.”

Network Rail spokesman, Dean Shaw, said: “Careful consideration has been given to our lineside neighbours – undertaking the works during daytime hours only on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, will be considerably less disruptive than the alternative of six weekends of night piling.”