They say that good things come to those who wait.
But if you’re driving to your loved ones to enjoy Christmas with all the trimmings you may have to wait a very long time – with motorway journeys delayed by up to three hours.
Traffic experts are predicting mayhem after identifying Britain’s worst congestion hotspots over the festive season and taking into account simultaneous rail engineering works and strikes.
Research by the RAC and the traffic analysis firm Inrix suggests Thursday and Friday will be the worst days for congestion, with 2.5million and 2.8million vehicles driving across the country.
An estimated 20million holiday journeys are set to be made this week
The delays are expected to be worst for motorists heading north.
Inrix data scientist Joshua Kidd said: ‘Our data shows that compared to a normal day, Thursday, December 20, 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 alternative routes to their destinations and use the latest technology for real-time updates.’
Those driving on the M6 between Staffordshire and Greater Manchester may be delayed by up to 181 minutes on Thursday. On Friday, travellers taking the M40 south from the M42 in Warwickshire to J8A at Oxford face delays of 110 minutes.
Motorists are being warned to expect ‘significant congestion on major roads’ such as the M25 as an estimated 20million holiday journeys are made this week (file picture)
Motorists are being warned to expect ‘significant congestion on major roads’ such as the M25, M6 and M40 as an estimated 20million holiday journeys are made this week.
However, extensive roadworks will remain in place on the M6 near Coventry and between Stafford and Crewe, and on the M1 between Milton Keynes and Northampton.
Drivers are being advised to use alternative routes or wait until 8pm before setting off to avoid the worst queues.
Highways England aims to limit disruption by lifting more than 200 miles of roadworks on the country’s motorways and major A-roads by 6am on Friday to ensure more than 97 per cent of the network is open for the festive getaway.
Meanwhile, however, strikes continue to cripple the country’s railways.
Those driving on the M6 between Staffordshire and Greater Manchester may be delayed by up to 181 minutes on Thursday (file picture of M6)
On Saturday, rail workers on the Northern network walked out as part of their dispute over driver-only trains.
It was the RMT union’s 40th such strike, with plans for additional walkouts on every further Saturday this month. The action began at 7am, with ‘very few’ trains after 5pm and none after 7pm.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘RMT remains angry, frustrated and determined to carry on the fight for a safe, secure and accessible railway for all as Northern Rail slam the door on all efforts to make progress towards a settlement.’
Network Rail also plans to carry out 330 engineering works over the holidays, which could disrupt the journeys of tens of thousands of passengers. Yesterday, it also emerged that airline strikes hitting winter holidaymakers could continue well into the new year.
Virgin Atlantic pilots who are members of the Professional Pilots Union are planning a series of strikes from December 22 to Christmas Day, as well as from December 30 to January 2, and from January 4 into February on various dates.
The PPU yesterday announced a further round of action because of Virgin Atlantic’s refusal to recognise the union, which represents more than a third of the airline’s 965 pilots.
Virgin Atlantic is seeking a court injunction to halt the action.