Government announces Christmas transport measures
As the Government announces a series of measures focused on minimising disruption and helping people travel safely over the Christmas period, Sire Peter Hendy has been appointed as the transport tsar.
The Government is also working closely with transport operators to establish priority areas for testing of workers, to maintain and maximise services.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We’re working with transport operators to help people see their loved ones, safely. We ask everyone to closely consider their journey, plan and book ahead, be patient, and be considerate of fellow passengers – and particularly staff who have worked so hard all year – by following the guidance carefully, including keeping space and wearing a face covering on public transport.”
To help ensure better road transport over the period, an additional 288 miles of maintenance works will be removed, with a total of 778 miles of roadworks on motorways and A-roads now cleared. Where essential roadworks must continue speed limits will be set at 60mph where possible, including on key routes such as the M6 and M1, to keep disruption to a minimum. Ministers have written to all Local Authorities with the request that they lift as many roadworks as possible and ensure bus services are running reliably over the period, to ease traffic on local roads. Ministers have also written to all Local Authorities to ensure winter preparedness, with around 70% confirming they will modify gritting routes to ensure testing centres are covered.
The Government has suggested those planning to travel by coach during the Christmas period should book in advance.
CPT highlighted the importance of coaches during the festive season, with a spokesperson saying: “Coaches provide a vital means of transport during the Christmas period and will be running throughout, including on Christmas Day. Demand at Christmas is always high and this year will see even greater pressure with limited capacity due to social distancing on both the coach and rail networks.
“We will keep Government updated on demand levels to allow it to put appropriate plans in place to allow those who wish to travel over Christmas to do so safely.”
The Government appointed Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail and former-MD of Surface transport at TfL and former-Deputy Director UK Bus for FirstGroup as what has been described as a transport tsar.
Sir Peter is to scrutinise the plans of all coach operators during the period, as as those of rail, road, maritime and aviation operators. He will ensure a collective focus across the transport industry on minimising disruption and supporting passengers.
Sir Peter Hendy said: “Throughout the pandemic, the transport industry has been united in its efforts to keep passengers and staff safe. We must ensure that shared focus continues at this important time.
“The measures announced today will help ease congestion, boost capacity and minimise disruption for travellers. I will continue to work closely with all operators and offer recommendations that will see people home safely for Christmas.”