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National Highways lifts roadworks to make 98% of A-roads and motorways free of restrictions for Christmas

Hundreds of miles of roadworks are to be lifted ahead of the festive getaway as more motorists are expected to get in their cars to avoid Christmas train strikes.

National Highways, which also faces industrial action by some of its own workforce, says it is now working round the clock to remove almost 900 miles of works to ensure that 98% of motorways and A-roads are free in time for those planning to travel.

National Highways is temporarily lifting 900 miles of roadworks
National Highways is temporarily lifting 900 miles of roadworks

More than 40,000 workers at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies are staging a series of walkouts on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and again on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

The industrial action is expected to affect the travel plans of many alongside having an impact on already struggling hospitality businesses who rely on a successful Christmas trading period.

Strikes will also be staged by the PCS union within each National Highways region through December and early January. Action, says the government-owned organisation, involves a 'minority of traffic officers and control room operators' and begins in the north of England on Friday, December 16, before taking place in other regions over the following three weeks.

National Highways says it has comprehensive plans in place to minimise disruption including sharing resources between regional control centres to help with call handling and setting signs and signals.

Works will be removed from Tuesday, December 20
Works will be removed from Tuesday, December 20

But to try and keep disruption on the roads to a minimum, the vast majority of roadworks will also be removed from A-roads and motorways in England from 6am on Tuesday, December 20 until 12.01am on Tuesday, January 3 - when the majority of schools and businesses will reopen after the New Year bank holiday weekend.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Being stuck in traffic can take the joy out of travelling home over the festive period.

"Given the disruption expected from the transport unions’ strike action and cold weather, I’m pleased that we could act to remove these roadworks - reducing congestion and helping people with their important journeys this Christmas."

National Highways is responsible for operating 4,500 miles of road across the country.

Director Andrew Butterfield said the focus now was on how to make journeys on that network as smooth as possible for people over the coming weeks.

He said: "We don’t want roadworks to spoil Christmas so we’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible; that’s why we’re keeping almost 98 per cent of the road network we manage free from roadworks.

More people are expected to use their cars for Christmas travel with trains out of action
More people are expected to use their cars for Christmas travel with trains out of action

"We know from experience that peak travel times can vary in the run up to Christmas and so we’re encouraging drivers to check traffic conditions before heading out to help keep traffic flowing.

"And we’re also asking motorists to be prepared before setting off. Almost half of breakdowns can be easily avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before their journeys."

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