Fleet News

Christmas traffic to peak on Friday

Highways Patrol officers in vehicle

New research suggests a staggered spread of getaway traffic throughout this week, peaking towards the weekend as large volumes of everyday commuter traffic combine with people making leisure journeys. 

Consequently, the a study of drivers’ travel plans and congestion forecasts conducted by the RAC and Inrix reveals that Thursday (December 20) and Friday (December 21) are likely to be some of the worst days with 2.5 million and 2.8 million individual journeys expected to be taken respectively.

Data from Inrix indicates Wednesday through to Friday will see some significant congestion on major roads, with drivers travelling on the M25, M6 and M40 all likely to face long delays.

On Thursday, delays of up to three hours are expected on one section of the northbound M6, while on Friday part of the southbound M40 could see drivers queuing for more than an hour and a half.

However, when it comes to pure leisure journeys over Christmas, traffic is likely to peak on Boxing Day when some 6.8 million individual trips will be made as drivers cross the country to see family and friends, followed by next Thursday (December 27) when 4.4 million journeys are expected to be taken.

Highways England, meanwhile, will lift more than 200 miles of roadworks in time for the festive getaway.

To help journeys flow more smoothly and to keep disruption to a minimum, it says more than 97% of motorways and strategic A roads will be roadworks-free in time for Christmas, meaning motorists and hauliers alike can get on with last-minute shopping and delivery journeys with as little disruption as possible.

Where it is safe to do so, roadworks will be lifted or suspended on England’s motorways and major A-roads by 6am on Friday 21 December until 12.01am on Wednesday 2 January (full list below).

Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible for this Christmas getaway and that’s why we’re keeping more than 97% of our road network free from roadworks.

“We know that the Christmas period is one of the busiest times on our roads and we’d also like to remind people about the importance of checking their vehicle before setting off on their journeys. 

“Simple things like checking your fuel and oil levels, tyre pressures and that all lights are working properly, can keep you moving and the network flowing."

The RAC says that anticipated jams will be compounded by extensive disruption to the rail network – both planned and unplanned – that could force more people onto the roads.

Strikes are likely to affect routes run by Northern Rail and South Western Railway, and Network Rail is planning extensive engineering work on lines running into major stations including London Paddington and Victoria.

RAC Patrol of the Year Mark Souster said: “The run-up to Christmas is traditionally a very busy time on the roads and for us as Patrols, and 2018 looks to be no exception – although our data suggests drivers are planning on getting away early in some cases and spreading their journeys across a number of days, which would certainly be no bad thing.

Inrix data scientist Joshua Kidd added: “Our data shows that compared to a normal day, Thursday 20th December will see the biggest increase in cars on the road.

“With most drivers setting out mid-morning, traffic will become heavier over the course of the afternoon and stay congested into the evening. But it’s not just those off to see family and friends - commuters, last-ditch shoppers and online deliveries will contribute to clogging the roads.

“Drivers are advised to seek out alternative routes to their destinations and use the latest technology for real-time updates.”

Expected Christmas getaway trips and traffic conditions

Date

Planned leisure trips

Worst times to travel

Best times to travel

Worst road for long delays

Wed 19th December

2.8m

3pm to 6.30pm

After 7.30pm

M25 clockwise from J20 to J28 from 3.30pm. Up to 80min delay

Thu 20th December

2.5m

11.30am to 6.30pm

After 8pm

M6 north J15 to J25 from 12.30pm. Up to 181min delay

Fri 21th December

2.8m

11.30am to 6pm

After 7.30pm

M40 south from M42 Warwickshire to J8A (Oxford). Up to 110min delay

Sat 22nd December

2.2m

10.30am to 4pm

Before 9.30am or after 7.30pm

M40 north from J8A (Oxford) to M42 Warwickshire. Up to 61min delay

Sun 23th December

1.9m

4pm to 6.30pm

Before 11am or after 8pm

-

Mon 24th December

2.5m

11am to 1pm

At other times

M1 north J21 (Coventry/Leicester) to J26 (Nottingham/Ripley). Up to

22min delay

Source: Data from the RAC/Inrix 

Roads expected to be worst affected

Region

Location

Peak congestion from

Predicted travel time (mins)

Total delay (mins)

19th December

 

 

 

 

Greater London

M25 Clockwise J20 (Hemel Hempstead) to J28 (Chelmsford)

3.30pm

114

79

Greater London

M25 Anticlockwise J20 (Hemel Hempstead) to J11 (Woking)

3.15pm

86

58

North West England

M62 West J27 (Batley) to J18 (Manchester ring road)

6.30pm

76

48

South West England

M5 South J16 (Thornbury) to J19 (Portishead)

5.30pm

41

31

North West England

M60 clockwise J6 (Sale) to J19 (Manchester)

3pm

44

28

20th December

 

 

 

 

West Midlands

M6 North J15 (Stoke-on-Trent) to J25 (Wigan)

12.30pm

229

181

Greater London

M25 Anticlockwise J20 (Hemel Hempstead) to J11 (Woking)

5pm

131

86

South East England

M20 East J8 (Lenham) to J13 (Folkestone)

7.30pm

82

56

South East England

M3 South J6 (Basingstoke) to J13 (Bournemouth)

3pm

65

44

Greater London

M25 Anticlockwise J4 (Bromley) to J30 (London E & C)

2.30pm

54

39

21st December

 

 

 

 

West Midlands

M40 South (M42) to J8A (Aylesbury)

2.30pm

157

110

West Midlands

M40 North J8A (Aylesbury) to M42

12pm

84

35

West Midlands

M6 South J20 (Macclesfield) to J16 (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

5.15pm

58

33

West Midlands

M5 North J4A M42 to Ray Hall interchange

7.45pm

39

21

Scotland

M8 West J12 (Riddrie) to J29 (Paisley)

12.15pm

21

8

22nd December

 

 

 

 

West Midlands

M40 North J8A (Aylesbury) to M42

5.45pm

105

61

West Midlands

M6 North J15 (Stoke-on-Trent) to J25 (Wigan)

7.15am

104

59

South West England

A303 West Salisbury Road to A350

2.45pm

46

19

West Midlands

M6 South J20 (Macclesfield) to J16 (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

12.30pm

43

18

West Midlands

M5 North J4A (M42) to Ray Hall interchange

6pm

31

14

Planned national rail strikes and major engineering works this Christmas

Saturday 22nd, Thursday 27th and Monday 31st December, all day

South Western Railway

Services to and from London Waterloo

Saturday 22nd, Saturday 29th December, all day

Northern Rail

Fewer than 30% of normal number of services running, with very few after 5pm

Sunday 23rd December to 2nd January 2019

Several

No services to or from London Victoria

Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th December

Several

No services to or from London Paddington

27, 28, 29 and 31 December

Several

Reduced service on some routes to and from London Paddington

Roadworks lifted:

A38 Saltash Tunnel

0.25 miles of roadworks lifted

M5 J25-26 (near Taunton)

3.5 miles of roadworks lifted

A419 Cricklade (near Cricklade)

0.6 miles of roadworks lifted

A47 (near Little Fransham between Spicers Corner and Station Road)

0.1 miles of roadworks lifted

J6-8 (near Altrincham)

4.15 miles of roadworks lifted

A1 Newark on Trent-Carlton on Trent (near Newark On Trent)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

A45 M1-Weston Favell (near Northampton)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

A45 Stanwick Lakes Roundabout-Thrapston Roundabout (near Raunds/Thrapston)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

A45 Weston Favell-Wilby Way (near Northampton / Wellingborough)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

A45 Wilby Way-Stanwick Lakes Roundabout (near Wellingborough)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

A5 Old Stratford-Towcester (near Towcester)

1 miles of roadworks lifted

A52 Raynesway (A5111)-Sandiacre(M1) (near Derby)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

M1 Trowell Services-J27 (near Hucknall)

5 miles of roadworks lifted

M62 Jct 33 to Jct 34 (near Pontefract)

4 miles of roadworks lifted

M62 Jct 22 to Jct 24 (near Huddersfield)

3 miles of roadworks lifted

A1T Redhouse to Ferrybridge (near Doncaster / Pontefract)

3 miles of roadworks lifted

M180 J4-J5 (near Scunthorpe)

2 miles of roadworks lifted

Windle edge and Fidlers Green (near Barnsley)

0.3 miles of roadworks lifted

A64 High Hutton to Malton (near Malton)

1 miles of roadworks lifted

A64 Tadcaster Ings (near Tadcaster)

1 miles of roadworks lifted

M5 J25-J26 (near Taunton)

3.5 miles of roadworks lifted 

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Comments

  • Katie Colledge-Price - 20/12/2018 11:12

    Thanks Gareth a useful tip for employees, family and friends

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