Last-minute Christmas getaway in Britain hit by travel disruption | Rail transport


Disruption of rail services is causing headaches for people who rush late to spend Christmas with family and friends.

National Rail had reported problems with at least a dozen operators, including strike action affecting services across Scotland and parts of England.

The Railways, Maritime and Transportation Union (RMT) said a strike by its members who were senior train managers and conductors at CrossCountry was “strongly supported in all depots.”

The action means the company is running a heavily discounted service for Christmas Eve, with no trains running between Aberdeen and Edinburgh; Glasgow Central and Edinburgh; Derby and Nottingham; Leicester and Stansted Airport; Cheltenham Spa and Cardiff Central; Newton Abbot and Paignton; or Plymouth and Penzance.

Limited service is in place between Edinburgh and Plymouth; Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth; and Birmingham New Street and Leicester.

Cancellation of train services due to Covid-related staff shortages continues among operators, with LNER, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, Northern, ScotRail, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express among those affected. It involves a combination of planned and short-term cancellations.

Kelly Jones, who was traveling between Bath and Cornwall, said she was left “cold, stranded and scrambling” to get home for Christmas. The 24-year-old told the BBC she was trying to return to see her siblings after their father died earlier this year.

“This will be our first Christmas without him so I didn’t need that stress. I did not receive any notification of the cancellation until I [was] halfway through my trip, trying to catch a connecting train in Bristol.

“It left me cold, stranded and confused to find my way to see my family for Christmas. I do not blame the train conductors themselves. They are on strike for better working conditions and to disrupt change – I just wish I had been warned.

With millions expected on UK roads on Christmas Eve, national highways have reported serious traffic jams near Birmingham.

The AA estimated that there would be 17.8 million cars on UK roads on Friday. According to the RAC and traffic information provider Inrix, the worst queues were expected in Wiltshire on the A303 between West Solstice Park and the A36. National Motorways reported serious traffic jams on the M6 ​​between Junctions 5 and 6 near Birmingham on Friday morning.

Traffic on the M25 in Dartford, Kent. Photograph: Gareth Fuller / PA

Thousands of people have also learned that their Christmas holidays will be canceled due to Covid restrictions imposed by their destination countries. Winter sports operator Crystal Ski withdrew trips to Austria on December 27 after stricter entry requirements were introduced due to the Omicron variant.

Austria announced on Wednesday that British arrivals would be required to self-quarantine for 10 days from Saturday, unless they are fully vaccinated, including a booster, and have proof of a recent negative PCR test.

Pandemic restrictions across Europe have led MSC Cruises to cancel four departures from the UK by its ship the Magnifica. The cruises, which were scheduled to depart Southampton on December 21 and 28 and January 4 and 11, were scheduled to call in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands was stranded until at least mid-January, while Germany joined with France in banning British tourists.


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