Festive getaway in full swing

MARK NICHOLLS A huge festive getaway is under way as thousands hit the roads, rails and airways for a seasonal break. Major routes, including the A11 in Norfolk, were heavy with traffic on what was billed as the busiest day on Britain's roads with 18 million cars on the move.

MARK NICHOLLS

A huge festive getaway is under way as thousands hit the roads, rails and airways for a seasonal break.

Major routes, including the A11 in Norfolk, were heavy with traffic on what was billed as the busiest day on Britain's roads with 18 million cars on the move.

Rail passengers across the region were also today taking advantage of the last straight through journey from train operator 'one' to London for several days with Liverpool Street Station due to close on Sunday until January 1 for engineering work.


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This will involve demolishing a bridge on the approach to the station for the East London line extension and while this takes place, Network Rail is carrying out other projects including replacement of overhead line equipment and development work at Stratford associated with the Olympics project.

Whilst the work is carried out, no trains will operate between Stratford and London Liverpool Street.

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Passengers travelling to London from Norwich can change at Colchester for coach services to London. For intermediate stations to Stratford, passengers are advised to change at Colchester into alternative services.

However, there are plans to run trains through to Stratford on December 27 and 28, but passengers are advised to check first.

No trains will operate on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, except for direct coaches serving Stansted Airport on Boxing Day. A Sunday service will operate on New Year's Day.

For information, passengers can visit www.onerailway.com or call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950.

A spokesman for 'one' said: “The key message for passengers is to check locally on their particular journey before they travel.”

Norwich International Airport was busy but the message to passengers was turn up as normal as the usual check-in times apply.

Nationally, the Highways Agency is suspending roadworks on a number of routes but yesterday, motorists had to contend with accidents, packed main roads and freezing conditions. Among routes with heavy traffic were the M25, the M6 in Cumbria, the M40 in Buckinghamshire, the M4 in west London, the M3 in Hampshire and the ever-busy A303 in Wiltshire.

Around 16 million cars are expected to be on the roads on the second busiest days - December 27 and 28 - while Christmas Day will be relatively traffic-free with only four million cars likely.

A record 3.5 million Britons will be heading abroad for Christmas. Spain's Canary Islands are high on the list of destinations of those travelling overseas during the festive period, travel association Abta said.

Egypt, Goa and Dubai are also proving popular, while many skiers are heading for the slopes in France, Austria and Italy. Top city-break destinations include Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin and New York.

Abta said today will be the busiest day for overseas travel, followed by December 30 when people head off for New Year's Eve celebrations abroad.

Talk of milder weather has prompted bookmakers to lengthen the odds on a White Christmas. Milder weather is expected on Christmas Eve with temperatures reaching as high as 9-10C (48-50F).

Forecasters predicted freezing fog and icy conditions, particularly in northern England and Scotland, this morning.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “We would like to remind motorists to allow plenty of time to get to their destination over the festive period. Drivers should ensure windscreens and windows are clean and frost free. It's also important to make sure you have plenty of windscreen wash, that your brakes, lights and tyres are working correctly and use your lights appropriately to maintain visibility.”

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