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Half of UK motorists to hit the roads today

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Those hoping to travel on Britain’s roads or railways have been warned to expect severe delays in some areas.

The AA expects half of the UK’s motorists to be driving on main roads or motorways today.

There will be less commuter traffic but this will be partly offset by an increase in leisure journeys – more than one in five will be travelling to visit family and another 16% will be out shopping.

Roads are expected to be at their busiest between 11am and 1pm, according to research by the RAC and traffic information supplier Inrix.

The worst road for delays is expected to be the M1 northbound from Junction 21 for Coventry and Leicester to Junction 26 for Nottingham and Ripley.

Also best avoided will be the M25, M5, M6 and M40.

Trains will be cancelled because of autumn leaf falls
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There will be more strikes on some train lines over the coming days

More than 200 miles of roadworks have been put on hold by Highways England in order to keep more than 97% of the network open.

So you might think that train travel is the answer – but that won’t be simple during the pre-Christmas getaway either.

People board a National Express coach at the Victoria Coach Station, in central London.
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With many train lines out of action, bus might be a good option

Some of Network Rail’s 330 Christmas engineering projects have already started, closing a number of lines.

Among those affected are:

:: Services between London Victoria (the UK’s second busiest station) and Clapham Junction until 2 January

:: Trains to and from London Paddington today and 30 December, with a reduced service on 27, 28, 29 and 31 December

:: Liverpool Lime Street – an amended service until New Year’s Day, affecting Virgin Trains, East Midlands Trains, London Northwestern Railway and Northern

:: A number of other locations – passengers should check before travelling

:: In London, there will be no service on TfL rail from 23 December, with limited services across some tube lines and the overground

New train timetables led to severe delays for weeks earlier this year
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Many Christmas engineering projects have already started on the railways

Christmas Eve and Boxing Day will see a Sunday timetable for many lines and there will be no rail transport on Christmas Day.

However, coach company National Express said it will serve its highest ever number of locations on Christmas Day this year.

Network Rail’s managing director of strategic operations Andy Thomas said: “We know that our railway is up to 50% quieter than usual during the festive period so taking on and delivering these huge transformational schemes at this time of year minimises our impact on passengers.”

There will also be rail strikes over the coming days – South Western Railway will strike on 27 December and New Year’s Eve and Northern will strike on 29 December. RMT members at both companies also had strikes on Saturday.

Passengers queue at Gatwick Airport
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Gatwick has recovered from the drone disruption last week but is still expected to be busy

Meanwhile, airports are also expected to be busy, with more than 4.7 million people heading abroad between 18 December and 2 January, according to travel trade organisation Abta.

Services at Gatwick have largely returned to normal after drone sightings prompted closures last week.

More than 100,000 passengers were affected when the airport had to close its runway for hours at a time as drones were sighted.

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