Flight Information

UK Weather: Travelers face the 'worst ever' Christmas with strikes, roadworks, delays and cancellations

Travellers are facing the 'worst ever' Christmas with a ‘perfect storm’ of wild weather bringing transport to a halt around the country.

People will have to cope with strikes, about 29 million cars out on the roads, 123 miles’ roadworks, rail engineering works and airport delays throughout the UK.

Strong gales of 60mph winds are set to hit from Thursday and Storm Dylan threatens to be named.

Airport travellers will be hit by rail works axing some trains to Heathrow and Gatwick.

Long queues are expected as around 600,000 fly from Heathrow in the next week, with almost a million leaving from Gatwick over the two-week holidays.

Rail staff strikes are due on Virgin West Coast and Merseyrail on Friday, and CrossCountry on Saturday 23 December, Sunday 24 December, Wednesday 27 December and Sunday 31 December.

South Western Railway are planning a strike on December 31.

Not all services will be affected by the rail strikes by the various companies.

Bruce Williamson of campaign group Railfuture said: “Engineering works are improvements but so many issues coinciding means travellers will see it as a perfect storm for Christmas travel.

"Some passengers will feel it’s their worst ever Christmas on the railways."

The RAC said: “It’s the worst possible time for stormy conditions to hit.”

Motorists will battle 123 miles of Highways England roadworks at 27 locations.

Works include a 26-mile stretch of the A1 in North Yorkshire with 50mph speed limits delaying 70,000 vehicles a day, eight miles of the M62 with 50mph limits near Castleford, and speed restrictions on the M6 from junction 8 to the M5 junction 3 near Birmingham.

Highways England will suspend 61 miles of other roadworks at 14 sites from December 22 to January 2.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “Essential roadworks will be left in place.”

And 29million leisure car journeys will clog roads over Christmas, the RAC said, with 11.5m trips by Christmas Eve and 17.5m from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.

The worst delays could see usual one hour trips on the M6 southbound take five hours 20 minutes on Thursday, and 30 minute trips on the M25 may take two hours and 30 minutes on Wednesday, travel analysts Inrix said.

The RAC said Friday will be one of the busiest travel days of 2017, with 4-7pm seeing the worst jams.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Christmas falling on a Monday means a concentrated rush as people leave it late.

“Friday will be frantic and one of the busiest days of the year on the roads. Saturday will be slow going. Expect delays.”

Inrix chief economist Dr Graham Cookson said: “Take alternative routes or avoid peak times.”

London Paddington will shut from the evening of December 23 to the morning of December 28, and remain half-shut to December 31.

December 23 to January 1 sees major London stations have no Southeastern trains, the cross-London north-south Thameslink route shut and Liverpool Street will have no Greater Anglia trains

London-Ipswich, usually one hour 11 minutes, could take two hours and 17 minutes.

The London-Glasgow west coast main line is severed as the 20-mile stretch between Preston and Lancaster is shut on Christmas Eve and December 27. Buses will be used.

There are no services to or from Gatwick on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and services are cut on December 23 and 27-29.

There is no service on the Heathrow Express or the Heathrow Connect from December 24-27.

South Western Railway has all lines shut and diversions between Southampton Central and Eastleigh from December 24 to January 1.

Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton has no trains via Dudley from December 24 to January 2.

Travel expert Ian Baldry of IBPTS travel consultants said: “Passengers face chaos.”

Network Rail said: “The railway is open for business this Christmas. We’re making a significant investment.”

The Rail Delivery Group said: “Carrying out vital work over Christmas and New Year, when fewer people use the railway, will help minimise disruption.”