A rail strike hits the Christmas Eve holiday and last minute shopping


The attackers scrambled to get the last trains before Christmas, as the latest strikes destroyed rail services and led to a huge last-minute shopping rush in the city centre.

Millions of people faced disruption to holiday flights on Christmas Eve Saturday due to the latest RMT strike and the impact on road traffic.

The AA predicted that nearly 17 million cars will be on UK roads on Saturday, creating heavy congestion on major roads.

Road pressure has increased due to industrial activity on the railways.

A strike by thousands of Network Rail’s Rail, Navigation and Transport (RMT) union members meant trains stopped running early and some routes did not have services all day.

Network Rail said trains would stop running around 3pm on Christmas Eve and warned passengers not to travel on Saturday unless it was “absolutely necessary”. It said there would be a “significant reduction in services across the rail network”.

Early closing means that the last departures on some long-distance routes are before 1pm. Trains will not start again until December 27.

The impact of the train strikes is expected to add pressure to the roads on some of the busiest travel days of the year.

People prepare to board trains at Kings Cross Station

/ Palestinian Authority

The figures showed the strikes also affected the number of people traveling to central London and other city centers across the UK for last-minute Christmas shopping.

Diane Wehrle, director of insights at Springboard, which tracks retail traffic, said: “Central London and other city centers across the UK continue to feel the loss of shoppers due to the rail strike, with a drop of 14.9% from last Saturday in central London and 13.2%. % less than in other city centres.

However, strikes appear to have driven local high-street shopping, she said, meaning footfall at UK retail destinations “has been remarkably resilient”.

She said: “Over the period up to 12pm on Christmas Eve, footfall to UK retail destinations was remarkably resilient given the challenges faced by shoppers traveling due to rail strikes.

“The turnout across all retail destinations in the UK was 1% higher than on 23 December and 9.2% higher than on the previous Saturday when there were also rail strikes. Then on Christmas Eve as people travel to their Christmas destinations .

“The spike that occurred last Saturday is a result of consumers not being able to reach their chosen shopping destination due to the railway strikes on December 17, and many people had opted to travel yesterday to avoid the possibility of not being able to reach their chosen shopping destination.

By far the largest jump in footfall from last Saturday of 26.4% occurred in retail parks, which was clearly a result of customer demand for food and groceries. Mall footfall was also higher than last Saturday (7.4%) and 2.1 % higher on main streets.

As people looked for alternative ways to travel to their Christmas destinations, some bus passengers took to social media to complain about crowds at Victoria Coach Station in the morning.

One passenger wrote on Twitter: “Things got even more stressful this year due to strikes but @megabusuk & Victoria Coach Station chaos today. Huge crowds, horribly disorganized and no urgency or information from staff. An absolute farce.”

Hundreds of commuters advanced through the main entrance to Euston station on Saturday afternoon to get the last trains out of the capital.

Doctoral student Amy Saunders, 31, said the disruption of her trip to see family at Christmas was stressful, but she expressed sympathy for the striking railroad workers who she said would find the situation just as difficult.

Saunders, who was waiting at London’s Euston station to catch a train to Northampton to see her father after the Avanti West Coast train was cancelled, said she would be frustrated if she couldn’t get there but would “figure out something”.

“I have some friends in London, if I need to I’ll say ‘Hey, I’m coming crashing on your couch’. I think I’ll be down but I’ll be fine.”

She added, “I’m supposed to be on the Avanti West Coast service which has been cancelled. I have no idea why this one was so late so it’s a little stressful, but I’m sure I’ll get there.”

“I support strikes and I’m sure they are equally stressful for all the people working here who are trying to get everyone home for Christmas, and they wouldn’t need to strike if their working conditions weren’t intolerable.”

Heavy traffic on the A13

/ Palestinian Authority

RAC and transportation analytics firm Inrix said the worst Christmas Eve traffic on major roads was expected between midday and 1 p.m.

AA said a recent survey showed that less than a third of adults in the UK said they would drive to see family and friends before Christmas when they usually use the train.

“The nightmare of traffic before Christmas is getting worse,” said AA President Edmund King.

The motoring group advises drivers to check the traffic on their way before setting off.

Meanwhile, Border Force strikes continued at six British airports, but as of Friday, minimal disruption was reported.

There was little disruption on the first day of the strike on Friday as members of the armed forces were deployed to check passports, and commuters who posted on social media shared similar experiences on Christmas Eve.

A passenger at Manchester airport said it was “the fastest I’ve ever been in” with “no queues anywhere” while someone who flew into Gatwick described “not a single queue” adding that “for once it was a pleasure”.

It came on the heels of a difficult day on the roads on Friday as many drivers faced a torrential rain shoal that moved north from southern England and Wales into southern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

National Highways said a 10-mile queue had been created due to the closure of the M25 from Junction 11 (Woking, Surrey) to Junction 12 (M3) while clearing up stagnant water.

Heavy traffic has stretched for three miles on the M20 motorway as the western section of Junction 4 (Libourne, Kent) is closed after a serious crash on Thursday.

On Boxing Day, traffic will pick up again with nearly 15 million rides as people head out to see friends and family.

King said: “We expect Christmas Day to be a bit quieter with shorter domestic flights.

“On Boxing Day, traffic will pick up again with nearly 15 million rides as people head out to see friends and family.”

Examples of recent train times on the Saturday before the strikes are 10.45am from Leeds to London, 11am from London to Edinburgh and 12.48pm from London to Manchester.

The East Midlands Railway was only operating a “very limited service” between London St Pancras and Corby, with no trains on routes such as London St Pancras-Sheffield and London St Pancras-Nottingham.

South Western Railway trains did not run on several routes to and from London Waterloo, including Reading, Twickenham and Dorking.

There are no trains running on British Railways on Christmas Day.

The normal Boxing Day schedule has been canceled due to the strike, while services will start later than usual on December 27.

Christmas is a major period for maintenance work on the railways.

Network Rail has planned a £120m program of more than 300 projects over the festive period this year.

She said that “about 85%” of that work will continue despite the RMT procedure.

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