COVID-19: Christmas journey plan to clear roadworks and delay rail upgrades unveiled to keep away from chaos | UK Information
Nearly 800 miles of road works will be cleared to avoid the chaos over Christmas trips, the transportation secretary said.
Grant Shapps said some rail modernization work in Thursday’s announcement would also be postponed.
The government’s coronavirus measures will be temporarily eased for five days over Christmas, allowing three households to mingle in a bubble and travel to other parts of the country from December 23-27.
The Cabinet Minister said: “As many people are carefully considering traveling for Christmas to see loved ones, we are taking steps to facilitate travel.
“By clearing 778 miles of road works and postponing modernization work on the railways, traffic jams will be reduced, disruption minimized and additional services performed.
Live updates on coronavirus from the UK and around the world
“This move is supported by the elimination of administrative fees for changing train tickets in advance to ensure a strong staff presence and help people on their way.”
Mr Shapps urged travelers to think carefully about their trips and plan and book them in advance.
He added, “Be patient and be considerate of fellow travelers – and especially staff who have worked so hard year-round – by carefully following instructions, including keeping your space and wearing a face-covering for public transportation.”
Measures to alleviate travel disruptions will be released this week by the Department of Transportation after Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy was named Christmas travel tsar.
Mr Shapps said he had asked Sir Peter to work with the transport companies to “conduct a rigorous assessment” so that people can see their loved ones safely.
:: Subscribe to the daily podcast for Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Spreaker
The announcement comes after an AA poll found that one in four drivers (24%) plans to drive during the holiday season.
The study assumes that 7.9 million drivers will be on the road at Christmas, compared to around 17 million in the previous year.
Of the 16,500 drivers surveyed in the survey, 48% said they were planning a Christmas trip down major roads or highways on December 24th – suggesting that Christmas Eve would be the busiest day for road trips.
And the last Saturday before Christmas – December 19th – is likely to be the worst day for shopping.
Congestion hotspots are likely to be found near shopping malls near highways such as Cribbs Causeway, Bristol; Bluewater, Kent; and the Trafford Center in Manchester.
AA President Edmund King applauded “Highways England’s efforts to remove some 750 miles of road works on major roads and motorways”.
He added: “All in all, despite reduced use of public transport and five days of festive freedom, we do not predict total freedom on the streets.”