Millions embark on last-minute Christmas getaway

An estimated 17.8 million cars will be on UK roads on Friday, according to the AA.

Neil Lancefield
Friday 24 December 2021 11:46
Millions of people are embarking on a last-gasp getaway to spend Christmas with friends and relatives (Ben Birchall/PA)
Millions of people are embarking on a last-gasp getaway to spend Christmas with friends and relatives (Ben Birchall/PA)

Millions of people are embarking on a last-gasp getaway to spend Christmas with friends and relatives.

The AA estimated there will be 17.8 million cars on UK roads on Friday, as drivers making Christmas Eve leisure journeys and trips to buy presents compete for road space with commuters.

The worst queues were expected to take place in Wiltshire on the A303 between West Solstice Park and the A36, according to the RAC and traffic information supplier Inrix.

National Highways reported “severe” congestion on the M6 between Junctions 5 and 6 near Birmingham at 11.30am.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said a strike by its members who are train managers and senior conductors at CrossCountry is being “solidly supported in all depots”.

The action means the firm is running a heavily reduced service on Friday.

That means its trains are not operating between Aberdeen and Edinburgh; Glasgow Central and Edinburgh; Derby and Nottingham; Leicester and Stansted Airport; Cheltenham Spa and Cardiff Central; Newton Abbot and Paignton; or Plymouth and Penzance.

A limited service is in place between Edinburgh and Plymouth; Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth; and Birmingham New Street and Leicester.

The cancellation of train services by operators across Britain due to pandemic-related staff shortages continues, with LNER, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, Northern, ScotRail, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express among those affected.

This is involving a combination of planned and short-notice cancellations.

Meanwhile, Network Rail is preparing to begin 370 engineering projects on the railways, which will also disrupt services.

Heathrow Airport will be cut off from the rail and Tube network on Christmas Day and Boxing Day due to Network Rail and Transport for London doing simultaneous work.

Disruption elsewhere includes:

– Leeds will have a reduced service between December 27 and January 3, including a “very limited” service on January 2.

– No services will run between London King’s Cross and Finsbury Park on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

– CrossCountry trains will not call at Bristol Parkway between December 27 and 31.

Passengers can find out whether their journeys are affected through their train operator or National Rail Enquiries.

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