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It's Christmas! Region's roads, rails and skies begin to fill as festive getaway starts

PUBLISHED: 17:34 19 December 2014 | UPDATED: 17:34 19 December 2014

Delays are expected from 9.30am

Delays are expected from 9.30am

Archant

Let the holidays begin. Those will have been the words of many people across the region today, as the Christmas break begins for many.

The region’s roads, train lines and skies have been busy today as friends and families began journeys to see loved ones, return home or take a well earned Christmas break.

The Highways Agency has attempted to make journeys smoother for motorists, suspending or completing nearly 400 miles of roadworks across the country in time for the final part of the Christmas getaway.

The agency aims to complete or lift 156 schemes by 6am on December 23, although a number of works on busy roads will have to remain in place for safety reasons.

Included in the schemes are the A14 at Bury St Edmunds, the A12 in Ipswich, the A12 in Colchester and the A120 near Colchester and the A120 near Braintree.

The AA said today was the busiest day for drivers in the Eastern region, with 37% of its members driving more than 20 miles, but 33% will be on the roads again today.

A spokesman for the drivers’ group added 35% will be on the road on Tuesday, and 28% on Christmas Eve.

And if anyone is looking to make record time on a journey over the festive period, Christmas Day will see only 18% of members on the road in the Eastern region, before rising to 26% on Boxing Day.

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, said: “If you’re travelling with children, take plenty of things to keep them entertained and try to break up any journey more than three hours long.

“Before heading off, take a few minutes to do the basic checks on your car.

“Also with an unsettled forecast, pack a few extra warm and waterproof layers, food, water, torch, fully-charged mobile and an atlas or sat-nav in case of any unexpected diversions.”

Abellio Greater Anglia expected services to be busy in the run up to Christmas, and a spokesman said the compnay was planning to operate a normal scheduled timetable in the run up to Christmas.

He added: “On Christmas Eve there will be an earlier shutdown of services on most routes – customers are advised to check the times of last trains.”

And although rail passengers may have experienced delays on the Stansted Express this afternoon, the London Stansted Airport will have its busiest day of the period on Monday, with 37,500 passengers forecast to take to the skies.

Top destinations this Christmas include Dublin, Rome and Barcelona and winter hot spots such as Athens, Larnaca, Dubai and the Canary Islands, as 820,000 passengers are expected to travel through the terminal from today until January 2.

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