Christmas Eve Train strikes latest updates: Christmas travel disruption as RAC tells drivers ‘avoid roads until 7pm’

Passengers expected to face ‘two hour queues’ at Gatwick amid strikes, says airport boss

Britons have been warned of train disruption ahead of a strike tomorrow as millions embark on Christmas getaway journeys, with motorists told to avoid the roads until 7pm.

The RAC, which expects 7.9 million leisure journeys to be made across the UK on Friday and Christmas Eve combined, published the alert for a stretch of the M25.

The 23rd of December is typically the busiest day for rail travellers ahead of the Christmas holiday, with 27 December the busiest for post-Christmas travel.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are set to stage another round of industrial action tomorrow in an ongoing row over pay and conditions,

Earlier, a separate union warned that strikes by Border Force staff could last for up to six months as they staged the first of several days of action.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, urged ministers to “get around the negotiating table” and make a better pay offer.

“Our strike mandate lasts right up until May,” he told the BBC earlier this morning. “We will be supporting this action up to May and we would re-ballot again if we have to.”

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Scotrail warns travellers of disruption over Christmas due to strikes

Strike action beginning on Christmas Eve will severely limit rail services with people being advised to only travel if “absolutely necessary”, Scotland’s rail operator has warned.

In the latest round of RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union strikes, thousands of members are on strike due to an ongoing pay dispute.

The strike will begin on Christmas Eve at 6pm, with services winding down earlier than usual from 3pm – much earlier than usual.

No trains will run on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, with services expected to resume at later in the day on December 27.

David Simpson, ScotRail Service delivery director, said: “We’re reminding customers that ScotRail services will be disrupted over the Christmas period as a result of the dispute between Network Rail and the RMT.

“Services will be stopping earlier than usual on Christmas Eve, there will be no services on Boxing Day, and the first trains will start later than normal on Tuesday December 27.

“We know this is really frustrating for everyone impacted and we’re urging customers to plan ahead and check their entire journey in advance.”

Avanti West Coast is also strongly urging customers to only travel if absolutely necessary and check their journey during the festive period.

The last train from Glasgow to London will depart at 10.40am on December 24.

Barry Milsom, executive director of operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, said: “Over the festive period there’ll be changes to our services due to planned improvement work, as well as strike action by RMT members at Network Rail.

“As a result, our last trains will depart earlier on Christmas Eve and services will start later on December 27, so the advice to customers is only travel if absolutely necessary on those days.

“In addition, we’ll be operating an amended timetable and some journeys will involve a change or rail replacement service.

“We’re urging our customers to plan ahead and check before they travel if making a journey on our West Coast route between December 24 and January 2.”

The RMT has also announced plans for four days of strike action early in the new year, starting on January 3.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain24 December 2022 08:25

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All the UK strike dates confirmed for January 2023

Peony Hirwani24 December 2022 07:30

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Effects of these strikes

The effects of these strikes is now well established after a number of similar walk-outs impacted British travellers over the summer and earlier this autumn; industrial action from around 5,000 Network Rail signallers will mean half the rail network is closed, with a much-reduced service on the remainder.

Peony Hirwani24 December 2022 06:30

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RMT general secretary Mick Lynch on walk-outs

“We feel that we’ve been compelled to take this action due to the intransigence of the government,” Mr Mich Lynch said.

“We’ve been faced with an extremely detrimental offer and our members simply aren’t in a position to accept the changes the companies have put on the table.”

Peony Hirwani24 December 2022 05:30

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Which train company employees voted for the strike?

ASLEF, which represents 96 per cent of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, announced that workers with 15 companies, including Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway and Great Western Railway, had voted for the strike.

Peony Hirwani24 December 2022 04:30

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When is the next train strike planned?

The RMT union has revealed that more than 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will stage a series of 48-hour walk-outs.

Industrial action is due to take place over the key Christmas period, with members walking out from 6pm on 24 December until 7am on 27 December. Most trains do not run on 25 and 26 December anyway, but those aiming to travel by rail to see loved ones either side of Christmas Day will be affected.

Further walkouts will then take place on 3, 4, 6 and 7 January 2023.

Peony Hirwani24 December 2022 03:30

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Advice if you break down

National Highways has issued advice for anyone who gets into trouble on a motorway – go left.

If your vehicle has a problem, or you get into trouble on a motorway, stay calm and try to exit at the next junction or motorway service area. If that’s not possible:

  1. Put your left indicators on.
  2. Move into the left lane.
  3. Enter the next emergency area, or hard shoulder.
  4. Put your hazard lights on.
  5. Get behind a safety barrier where there is one – keep well away from moving traffic.
  6. Call National Highways on 0300 123 5000, then a breakdown provider for help.

Sam Rkaina23 December 2022 18:33

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AA list roads facing problems tonight

  • M1 near Toddington Services
  • A12 and A120 into Colchester
  • M3/A303 interchange in Basingstoke
  • Along the M4 including Hambrook and west of Newport in Wales
  • M5 in Exeter
  • M6 at Walsall
  • M11 near Stanstead Airport
  • M42 at Solihull
  • M55 flooding
  • M60 near Eccles
  • M90 Queensferry in Scotland

Sam Rkaina23 December 2022 17:12

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Christmas congestion increasing, AA warns

Several popular routes have been blighted with traffic jams today, including collisions on the M1 and the M25 partially closed due to flooding.

The AA has attended 9,000 breakdowns so far today, with more expected as the last of the nation’s office-based staff head for home, or further afield.

AA RoadWatch is reporting problems across the network, including on the M1 near Toddington Services, A12 and A120 into Colchester and the M11 near Stansted Airport.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The wet weather has played a role in adding to congestion on the roads, which were already busier due to the ongoing rail strikes. The rain has also led to more pothole breakdowns, such as punctures, as the puddles tend to hid the potholes.

“Our five-star patrols are working flat out to rescue drivers and get them back on their way. Some of these breakdowns could have been avoided by drivers carrying out essential checks before they venture out.”

Alice Murphy23 December 2022 16:22

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ICYMI: All the rail strike dates confirmed for January 2023

The ASLEF union of train drivers has announced that its members will strike over pay on Thursday 5 January 2023, joining their RMT counterparts in undertaking industrial action in the first week of the new year and leaving rail commuters stranded for five consecutive days.

ASLEF, which represents 96 per cent of train drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, announced that workers with 15 companies, including Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway and Great Western Railway, had voted for the strike.

My colleague Joe Sommerlad has more below:

Matt Mathers23 December 2022 16:00

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