As many as 20 million individual Christmas leisure trips will take place this week in the run-up to Christmas, a study of drivers’ travel plans and congestion forecasts conducted by the RAC and INRIX reveals.
The research suggests the getaway traffic in the lead up to Christmas looks as though it’ll be staggered but then peaks, as you’d expect, as we reach the weekend before Christmas. Although the weekend will see a large volume of traffic hit the UK, Thursday 20th and Friday 21st are likely to be some of the worst days in terms of traffic. On these days, 2.5 million and 2.8 million individual journeys expected to be taken respectively.
Data from travel analytics specialists INRIX indicates Wednesday through to Friday will see some significant congestion on major roads, with drivers travelling on the M25, M6 and M40 all likely to face long delays. On Thursday, delays of up to three hours are expected on one section of the northbound M6, while on Friday part of the southbound M40 could see drivers queuing for more than an hour and a half.
However, when it comes to pure leisure journeys over Christmas, traffic is likely to peak on Boxing Day when some 6.8 million individual trips will be made as drivers cross the country to see family and friends, followed by Thursday 27th December when 4.4 million journeys are expected to be taken.
The anticipated jams will be compounded by extensive disruption to the rail network – both planned and unplanned – that could force more people onto the roads. Strikes are likely to affect routes run by Northern Rail and South Western Railway, and Network Rail is planning extensive engineering work on lines running into major stations including London Paddington and Victoria.
Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, said:
“We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible for this Christmas getaway and that’s why we’re keeping more than 97 per cent of our road network free from roadworks.
“We know that the Christmas period is one of the busiest times on our roads and we’d also like to remind people about the importance of checking their vehicle before setting off on their journeys. Simple things like checking your fuel and oil levels, tyre pressures and that all lights are working properly, can keep you moving and the network flowing.”