Brits today face the busiest date for travelling on the nation’s roads, at the start of a festive period stacked with travel troubles including rail strikes and numerous station closures.
The RAC has warned drivers against travelling today where possible with last-day commuters mixing with an expected 1.25m leisure trips. It has been dubbed "Frantic Friday" by the RAC, as it is set to be the busiest day on the roads.
It comes as petrol prices this week notched up to their highest mark this year, averaging 120.56p a litre across the UK, according to Experian Catalist.
Gatwick Airport has also pegged today as its busiest for flights, with 67,000 expected to jet off on 22 December.
The RAC warned that rail strikes will also serve to drive more cars onto the roads over Christmas, threatening to cause a miserable festive period for those travelling to visit family and friends.
Walkouts by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are planned for 27 December on Greater Anglia, and New Year’s Eve on South Western Railway in rows over the role of the guard.
A strike by workers on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is also set for New Year’s Eve, over a breakdown in industrial relations.
SWR said the walkouts will "inflict more disruption on our passengers", at a time when "so many people need to travel to be with friends and family for the New Year celebrations".
Greater Anglia has a revised Christmas service in place for 27 December, with alterations due to engineering works, and said it plans to run that.
Further gloom is on the way in January after more strikes were announced on Wednesday. Walkouts are planned for Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and the Isle of Wight’s Island Line on the 8, 10 and 12 January. Southern rail will also face a one-day strike on the 8 January.
The one bright spot was the news yesterday that strikes planned Virgin West Coast have been called off by the Transport Salaried Staffs Association and the RMT, including one set for today.
The batch of strikes coincide with a period of significant upgrade work on more than 260 projects by Network Rail, causing a raft of station closures and further travel disruption over Christmas.
London Bridge, Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Waterloo East are facing closures, while services will not run between Blackfriars and St Pancras International from 23 December to 1 January for Thameslink programme work.
Network Rail station closures
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Meanwhile, London Paddington will be closed from 24 December to 27 December, with an amended service in place from 28 December to 1 January, as Elizabeth Line preparation gets underway.
Crossrail work has also meant the closure of the London end of the Great Eastern main line from 23 December to 1 January, and half of the lines from London Victoria to Brighton will be closed from 24 December to 1 January with Victoria station shut on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.