Will the new rail strike wreck the Christmas getaway?

The announcement of more rail strike dates has sparked fears that many people will be unable to visit loved ones over Christmas.

Train services on Christmas Eve are usually packed with people making journeys to spend the festive period with friends and family.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has announced that its members at Network Rail will hold industrial action from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27.

In response to accusations of causing more disruption to passengers, the RMT wrote on Twitter that the walkout “will only affect engineering work and not train services”.

(PA Graphics)

But the PA news agency understands that passengers are likely to be urged to complete their Christmas Eve journeys by 6pm.

A number of trains were scheduled to run after that time.

They include:

– A service from London Paddington due to arrive at Bristol Temple Meads at 10.05pm;

– A train from Manchester Piccadilly due to arrive at Liverpool Lime Street at 10pm;

– A service from Edinburgh due to arrive at Glasgow Central at 9.54pm.

There are no trains on Britain’s railways on Christmas Day and a very limited service on Boxing Day, which is expected to be scrapped.

But December 27 is usually a busy day on the network with many people returning home from Christmas trips.

The RMT’s strike ends at 6am on that day, meaning services will not start until around 8am.

People who want to avoid the trains for their Christmas getaway have a number of other options.

Many with access to a car will opt to drive, meaning the roads are likely to be even busier than normal on Christmas Eve.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said cars are “the natural alternative” to train travel so “we’re very likely to see an increase in traffic”.

Scheduled coach operators run throughout the festive period, so there is expected to be an increase in demand for services.

Megabus said it will provide more than 1,000 seats on its coaches on Christmas Day, serving 28 locations across Britain.

Domestic flights are also an option for the Christmas Eve getaway, although air fares are high at that time of year.

Examples of prices include a British Airways flights from Heathrow to Newcastle at £272, and a flight by the same airline from Heathrow to Aberdeen for £262.