Planned bank holiday engineering work means there will be no trains from Swindon on the Great Western line while services from Preston will be disrupted by work on the West Coast line operated by Virgin Trains.
The situation is particularly embarrassing for Virgin as it is a main sponsor of Preston.
Fans’ difficulties could be worsened by the late 5.30pm kick-off to the match on Sunday, May 24, which is being dubbed ‘The Replacement Bus Final’ by supporters.
The kick-off has been pushed back to ensure the match does not clash with Premier League fixtures that afternoon but it does mean that some Preston fans may not be able to get back home on Sunday, particularly if the match goes to extra-time and penalties.
Virgin, First Great Western (FGW) and Network Rail (NR) have all apologised for the situation, with NR saying that the engineering work was essential, had been planned well in advance, and could not be moved.
A Virgin spokesman said: “It’s unfortunate timing – and slightly embarrassing for us, bearing in mind our connections with Preston. But NR is carrying out maintenance work on the line between Preston and London and it will be shut down just north of Crewe and south of Rugby.
“We don’t have the option on the Sunday evening to put any further trains on, other than the one which is scheduled to come back to Manchester. And that won’t accommodate all the 3,000 or so fans we expect to want to travel by rail.
“So we are looking at what we can do on the Monday morning because the feedback we have had says a lot will be staying down for the night.”
FGW said: “There are no train services out of Swindon station on the day of the match. We will be running additional coach services from Swindon station to Reading, where you will be able to jump on to a fast service to London Paddington. Journey times between Swindon and London Paddington are expected to take two hours.
“Alternatively, if you travelling from the east of Swindon, we would recommend you go to Didcot Parkway where there will be two trains an hour into London Paddington.”