With 12 million drivers on the roads, 200 sets of rail engineering works and airports full of people jetting off to spend Christmas abroad, it will be busy however you travel over the festive period. But what kind of transport should you really avoid – and when?
1. When to stay off the roads
The last time Christmas Day fell on a Sunday (in 2011) suggests the busiest days on the roads will be Friday 16 December, Tuesday 20 December and Friday 23 December.
According to traffic information company Inrix, some journeys will take four times as long compared with other times of the year.
People using the M25 in either direction can expect to crawl at 11 miles per hour on Friday afternoon, with the worst time from 16:00 to 17:30 GMT.
It gets worse – a normal journey time of 35 minutes could take almost three hours.
|Predicted worst delays on 16 December 2016|
|Route||Average speed (mph)||Travel time on 16 December||Normal travel time||Worst time to travel|
|M25 J7 (Reigate) to J16 (M40)||11||2h 55m||35 minutes||16:00 – 17:30 GMT|
|A4 Westbound (Earl’s Court) to M4 J11 (Reading)||17||2h 10m||45 minutes||16:00 – 17:30 GMT|
|M5 Southbound J14 (Thornbury) to J21 (Weston-s-Mare)||15||1h 55m||30 minutes||15:30 – 17:00 GMT|
|M6 J16 (Stoke N) to J22 (Warrington||16||1h 50m||30 minutes||15:30 – 17:30 GMT|
|M60 both ways J8 (Carrington) to M62 J20 (Rochdale)||15||1h 10m||20 minutes||15:30 – 17:30 GMT|
Greg Hallsworth, UK traffic analyst at Inrix, said: “There will be significant disruptions on the road due to the regular post-work peak, the start of the school holidays and people heading home for Christmas, as well as the number of delivery vehicles making their drop offs.”
According to the AA, 12 million cars will also be travelling at least 20 miles on Friday 23 December.
The AA worked this out based on a survey of 19,317 members, 41% of whom said they would be making long journeys that day. It then applied the figure to the number of vehicles in the UK.
Highways England has promised to complete or lift 448 miles of roadworks by 23 December. However, with the majority of schools breaking up a whole week before Christmas many of these will still be in place on Friday 16 December.
2. When to avoid the trains
As well as 16 December being busy on the roads, it’s also one of the days Southern train drivers in the ASLEF and RMT unions are due to be on strike.
No Southern services will run at all that day and people are being told they “should not attempt to travel“.
Conductors will also go on strike on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 December.
Rail engineering work will start on Christmas Eve, Saturday 24 December.
That means people will need to check whether they should travel on the Friday or before if they want to avoid disruption.
The usual shut down of rail services on Christmas Day offers a chance for engineers to carry out maintenance and upgrade work.
And because it’s a quieter time for people travelling in general, the period between Christmas and New Year will also mean planned work will hit services.
Travelling to and from airports
Changes to rail services
No services to and from London Paddington 24 to 29 December
Stansted Express Replacement buses from Liverpool Street, 31 December and 1 January
Gatwick Express Nothing from 22:00 24 December – 04:00 4 January
Manchester Airport Disruption on various routes 21 December to 2 January
There are 200 railway engineering projects, including:
- Engineering work between London Waterloo and Clapham Junction will close various lines on Christmas Eve.
- Paddington Station will be closed from Saturday 24 December. All lines will be closed between London Paddington and West Ealing between 26 and 29 December, with no Heathrow Connect or Heathrow Express services to or from Paddington.
- Work between Manchester, Eccles, Salford Crescent and Trafford Park will affect services over Christmas and until 2 January 2017.
- Arriva Trains Wales services between Manchester Piccadilly and Warrington Bank Quay will be replaced by buses. Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate stations will be closed to trains on 27 December and from 31 December to 2 January.
- Northern trains between Manchester Airport, Blackpool North and Barrow-in-Furness are being diverted, running from Manchester Victoria instead.
- Virgin Trains is running a reduced service to and from Manchester Piccadilly on New Year’s Eve.
3. When you need to get to the airport early
Friday 16 December is expected to be the busiest day for people flying from Heathrow Airport.
There will be 235,003 passengers arriving and departing compared with about 200,000 on a typical day.
An airport spokeswoman said: “Usually our most popular destinations are New York, Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.”
London based private hire company Addison Lee said it expected to handle three times the volume of bookings for people going to Heathrow compared with a normal weekday.
The company expects Friday 23 December will see double the number of people try to get to rail stations compared with a normal weekday, as well.
It expects the busiest time on New Year’s Eve to be between 19:00 and 20:00 GMT as people go out, then 01:00 and 02:00 as people return home.
And even though Christmas will be a distant memory by 16 January, that is expected to be the busiest day for people coming home from Heathrow, presumably as people tried to escape the back to work blues by going away straight after the festive season.
Originally found athttp://www.bbc.com/news/uk