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Christmas Getaway 2016: Road Journeys Could Take Up To Four Times Longer

Friday 16th and Tuesday 20th December set to be the busiest days on UK roads in the lead up to Christmas

London – December 14, 2016 – Journeys on some major routes could take almost four times as long this Christmas period compared to other times of the year, according to data from INRIX, the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics.

Based on an analysis of traffic levels from the last time Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, in 2011, the busiest days on UK roads are expected to be Friday 16th and Tuesday 20th December.

Friday 16th December will see the worst delays, which will peak at around 4pm, as Christmas traffic combines with the usual Friday evening peak period. With drivers leaving work early or travelling to spend the festive period with relatives, journey times could take as much as four times longer on Friday afternoon. A planned strike on the Southern network on 16th December may also lead to higher numbers of vehicles taking to the roads in the south of England.

The worst affected roads this Friday will be major motorways. Drivers on a 32-mile section of the M25 (both ways) should expect delays of up to 2 hours and 20 minutes, extending a journey that typically takes 35 minutes to nearly three hours, with the average speed falling to 11 miles per hour.

Outside of the M25, drivers heading westbound on the A4 and southbound on the M5 towards the West Country should be prepared for delays of up to 1 hour and 25 minutes. Delays of 1 hours and 20 minutes are also expected on the M6 between Stoke and Warrington. Travellers are advised to find alternative routes for journeys on major roads, as the shortest routes will not always be the fastest.

 

Table 1: Friday 16th December – UK’s most delayed routes, average journey times and suggested alternative routes

 

Route Dist (miles) Av. Speed (mph) Travel Time Normal Delay Worst Time Alternative Route
M25 both ways  J7 (Reigate) to J16 (M40) 32 11 2h 55m 35 min 2h 20m 4:00-5:30PM A217/A240/A308 between Reigate/Staines or A205/A406 N/S Circ Rds
A4 Westbound (Earl’s Court) to M4 J11 (Reading) 37 17 2h 10m 45 min 1h 25m 4:00-5:30PM A316/M3/A322/A329M between Richmond and Reading
M5 Southbound J14 (Thornbury) to J21 (Weston-s-Mare) 29 15 1h 55m 30 min 1h 25m 3:30-5:00PM A38 Whitminster to Almondsbury/M4/M4; A4/A370 South of Bristol
M6 b/ways J16 (Stoke N) to J22 (Warrington) 30 16 1h 50m 30 min 1h 20m 3:30-5:30PM A49 Hereford to Warrington or A50/A500/A34 Leicester to Manchester
M60 both ways J8 (Carrington) to M62 J20 (Rochdale) 17 15 1h 10m 20 min 0h 50m 3:30-5:00PM M60 J8 to J21 via Stockport/Ashton-u-Lyne/A627M to Rochdale
M4 b/ways J24 (Coldra) to J32 (Coryton) 20 18 1h 05m 20 min 0h 45m 3:30-5:00PM A4232 S of Cardiff/A48 via Newport
M25 Anti-clockwise J4 (Orpington) to Dartford Crossing 10 12 0h 50m 15 min 0h 35m 4:00-5:30PM A2/A102/A12 via Blackwall Tunnel
M3 Southbound J2 (M25) to J8 (A303) 36 33 1h 05m 35 min 0h 30m 4:30-6:00PM A3/A31 Kingston-upon-Thames to Winchester
M5 b/ways J4 (Bromsgrove) to J7 (Worcester) 16 18 0h 50m 20 min 0h 30m 3:00-5:00PM A38 between Bromsgrove and Worcester
M25 Clockwise J27 (M11) to Dartford Crossing 18 27 0h 40m 20 min 0h 20m 4:00-5:30PM A12/A102/A2 via Blackwall Tunnel
M74 Southbound J1/M8 and J5 (Raith) 22 33 0h 40m 25 min 0h 15m 1:00-3:00PM M8/A8/A73/A71 via Newhouse/Newmains
M1 Northbound J17 (Watford Gap) to J23a (E Mids Airport) 38 42 0h 55m 40 min 0h 15m 3:00-5:00PM A6 Kettering to Loughborough or use M40/M42/A42 from London

 

Tuesday 20th December is expected to see the second longest delays on UK roads around the festive season. It is anticipated that it will be the favoured day for people working into the final week before Christmas to hit the roads. A strike on the Southern rail networks is also planned for 20th December.

Delays are predicted to peak between 12.30pm-1pm and then again at 4pm. The same 32-mile stretch of the M25 will see delays of up to 1 hour 10 minutes. Elsewhere, delays of approximately 55 minutes are expected on the A4, and 45 minutes on the M5 and M6. Congestion on the M60 will delay drivers by around 30 minutes, and travelers heading to Wales will face similar delays on the M4.

Greg Hallsworth, UK traffic analyst at INRIX, said: “Our data shows that Friday 16th December will be the busiest period on the roads this Christmas. There will be significant disruptions on the road due to the regular post-work peak, the start of the school holidays and people heading home for Christmas, as well as the number of delivery vehicles making their drop offs as ecommerce in the UK reaches a record high[i].

“Drivers taking to the roads this Christmas would be well advised to take alternative routes or avoid driving during peak times altogether. By checking live traffic data, and keeping an eye on weather conditions, drivers can ensure they reach their destinations safely and in good time,” advises Hallsworth.

 

Table 2: Tuesday 20th December – UK’s most delayed routes, average journey times and suggested alternative routes

 

Route Dist (miles) Av. Speed (mph) Travel Time Normal Delay Worst Time Alternative Route
M25 both ways  J7 (Reigate) to J16 (M40) 32 18 1h 45m 35 min 1h 10m 4:30-6:00PM A217/A240/A308 between Reigate/Staines or A205/A406 N/S Circ Rds
A4 Westbound (Earl’s Court) to M4 J11 (Reading) 37 22 1h 40m 45 min 0h 55m 1:30-3:00PM A316/M3/A322/A329M between Richmond and Reading
M5 Southbound J14 (Thornbury) to J21 (Weston-s-Mare) 29 23 1h 15m 30 min 0h 45m 3:30-5:30PM A38 Whitminster to Almondsbury/M4/M4; A4/A370 South of Bristol
M6 b/ways J16 (Stoke N) to J22 (Warrington) 30 25 1h 15m 30 min 0h 45m 4:00-6:00PM A49 Hereford to Warrington or A50/A500/A34 Leicester to Manchester
M60 both ways J8 (Carrington) to M62 J20 (Rochdale) 17 19 0h 55m 25 min 0h 30m 4:00-6:00PM M60 J8 to J21 via Stockport/Ashton-u-Lyne/A627M to Rochdale
M4 b/ways J24 (Coldra) to J32 (Coryton) 20 24 0h 50m 20 min 0h 30m 12:30-2:00PM A4232 S of Cardiff/A48 via Newport
M3 Southbound J2 (M25) to J8 (A303) 36 35 1h 00m 35 min 0h 25m 4:30-6:00PM A3/A31 Kingston-upon-Thames to Winchester
M25 Clockwise J27 (M11) to Dartford Crossing 18 23 0h 45m 20 min 0h 25m 1:00-3:30PM A12/A102/A2 via Blackwall Tunnel
M5 b/ways J4 (Bromsgrove) to J7 (Worcester) 16 29 0h 35m 20 min 0h 15m 4:00-6:00PM A38 between Bromsgrove and Worcester
M74 Southbound J1/M8 and J5 (Raith) 22 33 0h 40m 25 min 0h 15m 4:30-6:00PM M8/A8/A73/A71 via Newhouse/Newmains
M25 Anti-clockwise J4 (Orpington) to Dartford Crossing 10 23 0h 25m 15 min 0h 10m 4:30-6:00PM A2/A102/A12 via Blackwall Tunnel
M1 Northbound J17 (Watford Gap) to J23a (E Mids Airport) 38 46 0h 50m 40 min 0h 10m 4:30-6:00PM A6 Kettering to Loughborough or use M40/M42/A42 from London

 

Highways England has announced that it will complete or lift 448 miles of roadworks between 6am on Friday 23rd December until Tuesday 3rd January, leaving 98 per cent of its 9,534-mile network free of roadworks over the festive period[1].

During this period, Tuesday 27th December has been identified as a day to avoid travel or seek alternative routes, with the volume of cars set to rise again due to high street sales, plus high numbers of people anticipated to be out visiting family and friends or returning home from the Christmas break. National Rail also plans major rail maintenance over the festive period, which will impact services in and out of London, Manchester and Cardiff as well as the Heathrow Express[2], likely leading to more cars taking to roads between Christmas and the New Year.

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About INRIX

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics, a new approach that leverages big data and the cloud to help manage urban mobility. By aggregating a variety of sources and applying intelligence, INRIX delivers comprehensive data and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

 

Media Contacts

INRIX Europe

Matt Simmons

+44 (0) 20 7012 3509

matt.simmons@inrix.com

 

[1] eMarketer: “One-Fifth of UK Christmas Season Retail Sales Will Be Digital this Year”

[2] Highways England: 400 miles of roadworks completed in time for Christmas holidays

[3] Network Rail: Network Rail encourages passengers to plan journeys early ahead of Christmas upgrade work

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