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Highway faces busiest festive period in 5 YEARS due to Covid staff shortages have to cancel trains

BRITS is expected to block highways for the next few days at its busiest carnival getaway in five years as Covid staff shortages cause chaos on public transport.

Motorists expect to see the most severe traffic congestion since Christmas 2015 with 18 million giant cars are about to hit the road this week.

Drivers are expected to see the busiest festive period on the roads since Christmas 2015

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Drivers are expected to see the busiest festive period on the roads since Christmas 2015Source: London News Pictures
Cautious Britons are continuing to work from home and avoid public transport

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Cautious Britons are continuing to work from home and avoid public transportCredit: w8media

With Boris Johnson confirmed Christmas can continue to lock for free, AA expects December 23 and 24 to be the busiest days on the road as Britons head up and down the country to visit family and friends.

As Omicron variant continued to rise, major train stations were eerily quiet due to staff shortages canceling trains and cautious workers choosing to work from home and avoid public transport.

Train operators have seen a significant drop in passenger numbers after the Prime Minister worked on a stay-at-home order – with Greater Anglia even removing trains from its schedule due to number of declines.

No new Covid restrictions will be introduced before the festive weekend, with AA estimating around 18 million cars will flood UK roads in the days leading up to the big day.

New research from RAC and data firm INRIX predicts Christmas Eve will be a “crazy carnival Friday” – with 5.3 million car journeys taken on the 24th alone. twelfth.

The next busiest is set to be December 23, with 4.1 million trips expected.

Jack Cousens, AA’s head of road policy told The Sun: “The effects of Omicron are being felt right now, so our crash stats are reasonably low as people decide. plan to cancel events and not travel.

“That said, Thursday and Friday can be busy as people decide to see other people’s families for shorter periods of time – two to three days versus a week or so.”

Traffic on the clockwise M25 between J7 and J16 is set to be busy mid-December 23, while the south M40 between J11 and J9 will be full by December 22.

And the Christmas Eve rush will be most intense between the A303 at West Solstice Park and the A36, the RAC and INRIX warn.

The data also predicts rush hour on Tuesday, December 21 to be crammed on the M6 ​​northbound between J5 and J10a.

RAC incident spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Despite the growing prevalence of the Omicron Covid variant, our research shows that the vast majority of drivers are still determined to make Christmas right this year. – in stark contrast to 12 months ago.”

Inrix analyst Bob Pishue has suggested leaving later in the day as roads will start to become congested in the early afternoon.

He said: “With children out of school and many Britons taking extended time off for the holiday season, drivers can expect moderate delays across the UK, but heavier congestion on the highways speed in and out of cities.

“It is recommended to go later in the day because the road will start to get congested in the early afternoon.”

Meanwhile, rail passengers have been advised to check train service before they travel amid fears of disruption due to increased Omicron cases.

Major rail operators including Avanti, which runs the main West Coast line, and CrossCountry, said they were forced to cancel services due to staff self-isolating.

‘WIDESPREAD DISRUPTION’

CrossCountry said Brits should expect “widespread disruption” this week, and urged passengers to travel “sooner rather than later” to avoid missed catches.

Dozens of trains are canceled by the company every day.

Avanti West Coast has removed all peak ticket restrictions during the festival period to boost demand.

Seb Gordon, external communications director for industry member body Rail Delivery Group, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, that operators are running as many trains as possible.

He said: “We think that, at the moment, during Christmas week, when people are trying to run away – fewer people than in normal years but more people are still trying to escape – we think it’s important. is to prioritize as many trains as possible, even if that means a few more train cancellations on that frustrating short notice.

“But obviously, as we move deeper into this pandemic wave – which we hope won’t materialize in the way that people are predicting – it may be because we decided we really needed to prepare for the pandemic. a lower staffing level for a longer period of time and we will reduce the timetable.

“It’s clear that the Government’s announcement today about reducing the period of isolation will really help.”

On Tuesday, new cases were confirmed more infectious strains slightly decreased with 90,629 reported cases along with 172 deaths.

Train operators have reported a drop in passenger numbers

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Train operators have reported a drop in passenger numbersCredit: TAM / BEEM
Quiet cross during rush hour at the start of the festive journey

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Quiet cross during rush hour at the start of the festive journeyCredit: w8media
Prime Minister confirms there will be no more Covid restrictions before Christmas

https://www.thesun.co.uk/motors/17113683/christmas-travel-chaos-motorways-busiest-festive-period/ Highway faces busiest festive period in 5 YEARS due to Covid staff shortages have to cancel trains

Caroline Bleakley

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