Thousands of people were set to take to Lancashire’s roads and railways today, as the big Christmas ‘getaway’ begins.
With bags packed and presents wrapped, scores of festive funseekers were expected to join the county’s motorways and major roads in their cars, with numerous congestion hotspots expected.
However, motorists travelling during Christmas and the New Year will benefit from 99 per cent of England’s strategic road network being free of roadworks.
The Highways Agency intends to complete more than 250 miles of roadworks on England’s motorways and major A roads by tomorrow. A further 57 miles will be suspended from today.
Roadworks lifted for the duration of the holiday include the 1.4-mile CCTV drainage survey at the M55 Junction 1 at Broughton, while roadworks completed include the 1.25-mile replacement of defective bridge expansion joints at the same junction.
In all, 164 sets of roadworks are due to be completed on the Highways Agency’s roads ahead of the Christmas and New Year holiday.
A further 21 sets of roadworks and lane restrictions are due to be removed by 6am today and will not be put back before midnight on Wednesday, January 2.
The agency said restrictions or temporary speed limits would need to remain in place at 19 locations for safety reasons.
Its traffic officers will patrol the motorways and winter teams are on standby to treat roads if the forecast includes ice or snow.
The agency provides live traffic information and advice on driving in winter at www.highways.gov.uk and www.highways.gov.uk/twitter.
Road users can also call the agency’s information line on 0300 123 5000.
Virgin Trains said it had seen exceptionally high bookings for services over the Christmas period and urged customers to ensure they had reserved seats.
Around 100 of its services are already fully booked or nearly full.
The busiest day is expected to be tomorrow, with more than 45,000 seats already reserved.
Christmas Eve will also be very busy, and services will finish much earlier than normal.
Apart from December 25 and 26 when there will be no trains, all stations will remain open, although on some days there will be significant alterations to services due to route improvement work.