Christmas traffic: Delays warning as half of all drivers on roads



Traffic building on the M25 in Kent on “frantic Friday” – ahead of more busy roads on Christmas Eve

Drivers are being warned of severe delays on Christmas Eve as half of all motorists are expected to take to the UK’s main roads, the AA says.

The RAC added it expects 2.5 million leisure journeys to be made on Monday.

Roads will be busiest between 11:00 and 13:00 GMT, the RAC said – with the M1 in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire predicted to be worst for long delays.

Meanwhile, many rail passengers across the country are facing disruption because of planned engineering work.

The AA said despite fewer commuters travelling on Christmas Eve after booking the day off work, the difference will be partly offset by an increase in leisure journeys.

According to the RAC and Inrix, which provides traffic information, 2.5 million leisure trips are expected on Monday. It added:

  • The stretch of the M1 northbound between junction 21 (Coventry/Leicester) to junction 26 (Nottingham/Ripley) is expected to be the worst for delays
  • The M25, M5, M6 and M40 were also named as other roads “likely to see significant delays”

The RAC says the number of pure leisure journeys over the festive season is likely to peak on Boxing Day with an estimated 6.8 million individual trips.

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Media captionHow do you avoid holiday traffic jams?

On the trains

There are 330 sets of rail engineering works scheduled to take place until 1 January with some already begun.

Network Rail said it would do most of the works when no trains are scheduled to run.


The Severn Tunnel will shut between Christmas and the new year for electrification work

No trains run on Christmas Day and there are only a limited number of services on Boxing Day – but nationwide bus companies National Express and Mega Bus will operate.

The rail disruption includes:

  • All lines to and from London Paddington closed on 24 and 30 December. There will be a reduced service on some routes on 27, 28, 29 and 31 December
  • No Southern trains to or from London Victoria until Wednesday 2 January
  • No Gatwick Express service until 2 January
  • Timetable changes for services to and from Liverpool between Monday 24 December and 1 January, affecting East Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway, Northern and Virgin Trains
  • Replacement buses between Birkenhead Central, Birkenhead North and Liverpool Central from Thursday 27 December to 1 January
  • Replacement buses between Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Rochdale and Salford Central on 27 and 28 December and a reduced service between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge on Saturday 29 and Monday 31 December. Buses will also replace some services to and from Manchester Victoria on 1 January
  • In north Wales, Virgin trains will not run to or from Holyhead and Wrexham on Christmas Eve, 27 December and 30 December
  • In south Wales, the Severn Tunnel will be closed between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day due to the £2.8bn project to electrify the mainline between Cardiff and London Paddington.

Engineering works have been scheduled for the festive period because the railway is up to 50% quieter than usual then, said Andy Thomas, Network Rail’s managing director of strategic operations.

“While most of the network is open for business as usual, some routes are heavily affected and so we strongly advise passengers to plan ahead.”

Meanwhile, flights to and from Gatwick Airport are operating as normal after three days of disruption following reports of sightings of a drone near the runway.

At Birmingham Airport, flights were temporarily stopped on Sunday evening after a technical fault at air traffic control but resumed later on.

The Association of British Travel Agents, said more than 4.7 million people will be going abroad between 18 December and 2 January.

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