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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 06:24 GMT
The great Christmas getaway
Christmas getaway
Busy day on the roads but many roadworks have been suspended
The motoring organisation, the RAC is predicting that today will be the busiest day for road users.

Many people will be taking advantage of the long holiday weekend as motorists head for the shops.

Meanwhile if you're thinking of going away today, you could find the roads extra busy as many people take tomorrow off to extend the break to five day.

  • Breakfast had more on this throughout Thursday's programme

  • Our reporter Sophie Hutchinson was live at the Highways Agency control centre in Birmingham

    Weather

    There is also a chance of snow in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland which may spread south by Christmas day making travel more difficult.

    On the roads

    You can get more information from the Highways Agency helpline on 08457 50 40 30

    The Highways Agency has suspended roadworks on a number of key motorway and trunk road routes in England, but works remain in place in some areas, including the busiest section of the M25 west of London near Heathrow airport.

    The RAC said today was likely to be the busiest day of the festive period on the roads.

    They said many people will have Christmas Eve as a holiday and are likely to leave work early on Thursday to start their journeys.

    Also, the combination of January sales starting early, and last-minute Christmas shoppers, will mean that roads into town centres and large shopping centres will be badly affected as well.

    Travelling by train

    About four million passengers are expected to take the train today according to the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).

    That's up from a normal daily average of 2.75 million passengers. They say that the way Christmas falls this year on a weekend and because more and people are now taking off two weeks over the festive break means that traditional Christmas travel patterns are also changing.

    As 70% of journeys involve travel to or through London, all London stations will be very busy, as will main stations in other cities around Britain, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    Air travel

    A record 1.9m people are expected to be leaving the UK for Christmas abroad this year.

    Martin Wellings, the Association of British Travel Agent's president, said: "Christmas and the New Year are a peak time for the travel industry and yet again this year's bookings have hit a record."

    BAA said its busiest day would be Tuesday December 28, when nearly 400,000 people will be travelling through its seven UK airports.

    Of these, nearly 190,000 passengers will be passing through Heathrow, 100,000 through Gatwick and 60,000 through Stansted.

    British Airways will carry about two million passengers over the festive season today being the busiest.

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