Your essential Christmas travel guide

your essential christmas travel guide - Your essential Christmas travel guide
your essential christmas travel guide 2 - Your essential Christmas travel guide

If you are travelling by road or rail over the next few days then read on to learn what you can expect.

Cars

The roads are set to busy at certain times over the festive period.

According to figures from the RAC, an estimated 5.6million getaway trips are planned between December 23 and Christmas Eve.

RAC patrol of the year, Ben Aldous, said: “Our figures show many more drivers are planning leisure trips by car in the run-up to Christmas this year, so bumper-to-bumper traffic on some motorways and major A-roads is going to be near guaranteed.”

Highways England has removed more than 800 miles of roadworks from now until January 2 to help ease congestion.

To avoid busy travel times, Highways England is urging drivers to check traffic conditions before they set out and to make sure their vehicle is ready for the journey ahead.

Research shows almost half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided with simple checks and nearly a quarter are caused by tyre problems.

Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, said: “We don’t want roadworks to spoil Christmas so we’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible; that’s why we’re keeping around 98 per cent of the road network we manage free from roadworks.

“And we’re asking drivers to be prepared too. We know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before their journeys.

“So, before you set off, check traffic conditions, check your vehicle, and make sure you’re aware of the signs and signals on motorways.”

Buses

Stagecoach West buses will finish at 8pm on Christmas Eve. There will be no services on Christmas Day, while there will be a few running on Boxing Day. A Saturday service, with a few exception, will be in place on the 27th.

Full Christmas timetables are available here.

Trains

Great Western Railway are warning passengers of limited services over the festive period as Network Rail continues maintenance works this Christmas.

Rail passengers are being warned to travel early and to check their plans before leaving home.

Several, separate pieces of improvement and maintenance work will take place across the GWR network between Christmas Eve and New Years Day.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “It’s absolutely essential that Network Rail do this work, and Christmas is the only time that we can do it.

“Unfortunately, this means that we are not able to offer services between Reading and London Paddington on December 24 and 27.

“With industrial action on the South Western Railway network there are limited options for alternative travel on those dates and we advise customers to carefully consider this before they travel.

“A reduced service will be back running on December 28, with our full and improved timetable from Thursday, January 2.

Replacement bus services will operate from Slough towards Hillingdon. Alternatively, customers can travel on South Western Railway between Reading and Waterloo but are warned that strike action is likely to affect service frequency.

In South Wales the continued overhead wiring work at Cardiff Central and track renewal at Newport means that buses will replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff Central/Bridgend from Friday 27 December to Wednesday 1 January.

Further south on GWR’s North Downs route between Reading and Gatwick, work to strengthen a bridge at Guildford will affect trains. A bus replacement service will operate between North Camp, Guildford, Redhill and Gatwick Airport.

Bridge maintenance in Salisbury will affect train services between Warminster and Southampton Central on Friday, December 27 only. A bus replacement service will operate between Warminster and Southampton Central.

More details about the impact of the planned engineering work on trains during the Christmas and New Year period can be found at GWR.com/Christmas.

Weather

After heavy rain last week things should be a little bit more settled for the next few days.

Although temperatures are expected to drop, a White Christmas does not appear to be on the cards.

Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, Dan Suri, said: “For Christmas week there are signs of a quieter spell of weather and slightly colder temperatures for many, though some parts of the UK can still expect some unsettled weather on Monday or Tuesday.”

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