Roadworks lifted and rail engineering work cut to smooth Christmas journeys

Lifting hundreds of miles of roadworks and shortening rail engineering work are among measures aimed at avoiding Christmas travel chaos unveiled by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Some 778 miles of restrictions on motorways and A-roads in England will be cleared ahead of the festive period.

The closure of London King’s Cross station on Christmas Eve for major engineering work has been postponed from the afternoon until the end of service, to ease congestion for people making getaway journeys.

The West Coast Main Line will reopen earlier than planned on December 27, allowing a full Sunday service to run from 10am rather than midday.

Longer trains will also run on the route during the Christmas period.

Admin fees of up to £10 for changing Advance tickets bought for specific trains before Covid tiers were announced on November 26 are being waived to encourage people to comply with the new restrictions.

Ministers have written to local authorities in England to request they lift as many roadworks as possible and ensure bus services run reliably, to ease traffic on local roads.

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy was appointed Christmas travel tsar last week.

The UK Government and devolved administrations have agreed a temporary easing of coronavirus restrictions, allowing three households to mix in a bubble from December 23 to 27.

Sir Peter Hendy
Sir Peter Hendy (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA)

Mr Shapps said: “With many people carefully considering whether to travel to see loved ones this Christmas, we’re taking steps to try to ease journeys.

“Clearing 778 miles of road works and postponing rail upgrade works will ease congestion, minimise disruption and allow extra services to run.

“That action is backed by scrapping the admin fees for changing Advance rail tickets, ensuring a strong staff presence to help people on their way.”

He said Sir Peter is carrying out a “rigorous assessment” of transport services to ensure “everything possible is being done to help”.

He added: “We ask everyone to closely consider their journey, plan and book ahead, be patient, and be considerate of fellow passengers – and particularly staff who have worked so hard all year – by following the guidance carefully, including keeping space and wearing a face covering on public transport.”

Sir Peter said: “The measures announced today will help ease congestion, boost capacity and minimise disruption for travellers.

“I will continue to work closely with all operators and offer recommendations that will see people home safely for Christmas.”

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