Christmas travel chaos for roads and trains, here’s when it will peak

Whether you are driving or getting a train home for Christmas, here are the days you should avoid.

Christmas travel chaos: delays and diversions for roads and trains
© Roger Victorino / UNSPLASH
Christmas travel chaos: delays and diversions for roads and trains

It’s getting to that time of year where swathes of Brits criss-cross the UK to get home for the festive season. Recently, the UK has faced some very stormy weather as Storm Elin and Storm Fergus doubled up over the weekend. Next week temperatures are set to drop again, resulting in frost and snow across the country. This weather, combined with several other factors, should have you carefully considering your travel plans this Christmas.

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The AA has also revealed when the roads will be at peak business. Historically, this has tended to fall on 24 December, but that’s not the case this year. Similarly, trains are set to face major diversions and delays because of two key stations that will be shut on Christmas Eve. Here’s everything you need to know about the predicted travel chaos.

The busiest day on the roads

Though the busiest day usually falls on Christmas Eve, experts predict that that won’t be the case this year. This is because of the way Christmas itself falls: as it is on a Monday, people are expected to take advantage of this placement and set off before the weekend.

The AA therefore predicts that December 22, with 16 million car journeys, and December 23, with 16.4m, will be the most hectic for drivers. An amber traffic warning has been issued for the two days as ‘lengthy jams’ are expected. Edmund King, president of the AA, has warned that travellers may end up stuck in their vehicles for some time as the cold weather is likely to add to the disruption. He suggests bringing water, food and hi-vis jackets with you.

Express summarises the main roads affected:

Among the busiest places are expected to be the M25 and the M5 between Weston-super-Mare and the M6 near Birmingham.
Other places of potential traffic problems are expected to be the M1 north of Luton, the M4, M62, and M60.

Train stations closed

Two key London train stations will be closed on Christmas Eve, adding to the travel disruption. Lawrence Bowman, Network Strategy & Reform Director at Network Rail, warned:

Some routes will see disruption as we upgrade the railway, so it’s important that passengers check their journeys before travelling.

King’s Cross and Paddington stations are set to be shut for engineering works on 24 December. This will affect thousands travelling to Yorkshire, the North East, Scotland, the West Country and South Wales. That being said, Network Rail has explained that 96 per cent of the network will be open for 'business as usual'.

Bowman has also assured the public that the rail services will ‘look to use diversions rather than put people on buses’.

So, if you can, avoid these days and stations when getting home for Christmas this year!

Read more:

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Sources used:

Express: AA predicts busiest day for Christmas traffic as Brits urged to avoid travel chaos

Daily Mail: Paddington and King's Cross will be shut on Christmas Eve - plunging thousands of holiday plans into chaos

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