Festive travellers braced for delays

Travellers joining the great Christmas getaway have been warned to check before they trek over the holiday period.

Sunday, 21st December 2014, 3:00 pm
Driving home for Christmas can mean more traffic on the roads

Millions are expected to be on the move by road, rail and air to visit loved ones – or just grab some much-needed sunshine – during a busy festive season.

And with problems seemingly inevitable somewhere on the travel network, people are being advised to brace themselves for probable hold-ups – especially air passengers who face a two-day strike by check-in staff at Manchester Airport from tomorrow.

On the roads almost 400 miles of works will be lifted over Christmas and New Year to help journeys go smoothly.

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But that will still leave 403 disruptions blighting M and A roads, with the M6 the fourth worst-hit motorway in the country, according to a survey by Churchill Insurance.

“Motorists should plan their journeys in advance and consider alternative routes, allowing more time for their travel, as there will inevitably be significant delays,” said Steve Barrett, head of Churchill.

“Christmas is one of the few times in the year when whole families are able to get together. So at peak times, there is extra activity on the roads.”

The Highways Agency is aiming to complete or lift 156 schemes by tomorrow night – including those on the M6 through Lancashire – leaving 97 per cent of its road network free of roadworks in time for Christmas. But with an estimated 12m cars taking to the roads in the next two days, hold-ups will be impossible to avoid.

And Agency spokesman said: “We’re helping road users make important journeys to see family and friends by clearing roadworks across the majority of motorways and major A-roads. We advise drivers to plan journeys before setting out and make sure you check weather and travel conditions.”

The situation on the railways is unlikely to be any better, with the network shutting down completely on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. In addition the West Coast main line will be further affected by engineering works, meaning no trains to and from London for up to four days.

Bus travel will also be badly hit, with Stagecoach only running up to around 8pm on Christmas Day and only reopening with a limited service on Boxing Day. It will be a similar situation over New Year.

Local buses will not operate on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with only limited services available on Boxing Day.