Government fears road and rail chaos during Christmas rule break

A Christmas travel czar was appointed to avoid the chaos of transport during the festive season.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy will examine whether train, air and road networks will be ready for millions of people traveling beyond the five-day window if the restrictions for coronaviruses to be relaxed.

Cheaper train tickets for Christmas trips weren’t sold until Friday, about eight weeks later than usual, as timetables were delayed during the pandemic.

Capacity on trains is limited to allow social distancing. Some operators prevent passengers from boarding without a pre-booked ticket.

The load on the network is also increased by technical work during the Christmas season.

One of the most disruptive projects will be at London King’s Cross, which will be closed for six days from Christmas.

The London North Eastern Railway, which normally uses the station for its Anglo-Scottish trains on the East Coast Main Line, warns that alternative routes “should be very busy and should be avoided”.

The UK government and decentralized administrations agreed to temporarily ease coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, which will allow three households to mingle in a bubble from December 23-27.

The DfT will publish measures to alleviate travel disruptions next week, taking into account the analysis of the demand for tickets in advance and public surveys.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We know people want to be with their friends and family over Christmas.

“And for those who choose to have a Christmas bubble forming, we’re lifting travel restrictions across the UK for five days to see that bubble.

“Plan your trip very carefully before you start and book it as early as possible.

“Everyone must also follow the clear instructions to protect you, fellow travelers and employees.

“As some pre-sale tickets go on sale and people start planning their trips, we are closely examining demand on the network and have already taken steps to minimize any disruption.

“We are currently developing a plan to combat disruption, including longer trains and looser rules to allow more types of buses to run, and will release more details next week as the demand becomes clearer.”

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Our breakdown team is planning that the streets will be used in the“ five days of Christmas ”.

“Last year drivers told us they are planning 31 million trips before Christmas to see family and friends in the car, but it remains to be seen what the nation’s appetite for similar trips is this year.”


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