The saying ‘stick or twist’ is well known to card players but families planning their Christmas breaks might start using it too. Do they stick at home or twist and travel elsewhere? Because travelling over the Christmas period does represent a gamble. And one where the odds are increasingly being stacked against you. Consider the advice that various organisations have handed out so far.
The boss of Network Rail earlier this week warned of orchestrating a ‘crescendo’ of track repairs with several London mainline stations, including Paddington, Liverpool Street and London Bridge all but closed for most of the holiday period. Additionally, he warned that many services won’t run in and out of Waterloo, Charing Cross and Cannon Street.
The disruption won’t just be felt in London and the South East. Network Rail is planning the biggest programme of work ever undertaken, with 24,000 maintenance staff laying new track and signals at 200 projects across the country from Christmas Eve onwards. So a Happy Christmas to all their families and good luck to all those forced to travel by train.
Highways England, the body responsible for maintaining all our motorways is planning to be less Scrooge-like and is ‘aiming’ to complete or suspend 148 roadwork schemes by 6am on Wednesday December 23. Note the word, ‘aiming’. That’s not the same as ‘will’ or ‘promise’. And of course, just because no roadworks are taking place doesn’t mean that all the lanes will be in use or the speed restrictions will be lifted.
Those willing to brave the UK’s airports and make an airborne Christmas dash could be lucky or not depending which airline they choose. Pilots at Virgin Atlantic have threatened to work to rule at Christmas. Their threatened contribution to the festive season could see a significant number of flights being grounded. And let’s hope the Lufthansa pilots will have settled their differences by then. Their industrial action last week grounded over 2,000 flights and over 300,000 passengers.
One final piece of aviation bah humbug could be the length of time it might take holidaymakers returning to the UK to get through immigration. Press reports this week were of ‘monster queues’ that had built up at Heathrow and Stanstead with claims that it was taking over an hour to get through passport control and none of the ePassport gates working.
Luckily most of Transport for London’s cycle superhighways are now fully open and the Canal & River Trust is reporting no hiccups on the UK’s canals!