Christmas train tickets selling out leaving families stranded over festive period

On top of this, trains, flights and coaches will all be running at reduced capacities due to ongoing social distancing measures.  Tickets have nearly sold out across some long-distance routes.

On booking website Trainline, at the time of publication, tickets from London to Newcastle were already incredibly limited for Dec 23, with only a few seats remaining on most journeys.

Tickets were close to selling out for many journeys from  London to Edinburgh on the same date, as were tickets for trips from London to Cardiff, particularly in first-class carriages.

As usual, there will be no trains running on Christmas Day itself, and a very limited number of services running on Boxing Day. 

The Government has appointed Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, to examine whether transport links across the country will be fit for purpose over Christmas.  

He has been given the power to force train operators to lay on extra carriages. This means ticket availability may rise before travel restrictions are lifted.

Peter Walls, from the fare splitting service Split My Fare, said:  “We are concerned there could be chaos over the festive period.

“Unless more trains are timetabled, overcrowding is likely, especially with the cancellations and delays that are common at this time of year. 

“Our worry is that some passengers may be stuck and unable to get home if their train is cancelled, at least without paying much higher prices on the day.” 

Ticket prices have soared on some services since the Christmas Covid-19 rules were announced. Split My Fare saw a 59pc increase in traffic in the week following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Nov 24.

The average ticket to travel on the first day of the “Christmas bubble” increased by 52pc, rising from £28.31 to £43.02.

As well as trains filling up, the number of coach seats and rental cars available over the period has dwindled. 

Rental firm Zipcar said it had seen two spikes in reservations, the first being this weekend as the country moves out of the second lockdown, and the second being the Christmas bubble period from Dec 23 to 27. 

A spokesman said: “As our vehicles are being booked up, we advise members to book early to avoid disappointment.”

There has also been heavier than usual demand for coach tickets. National Express, which is running a limited service this year, saw a significant spike in traffic but said  that it would have the ability to increase capacity in line with demand. Despite a shorter travel window this year, it’s unlikely that the roads will see major traffic jams.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said that  500 miles of roadworks had been cleared on motorways and A-roads for the Christmas period.

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