Roads, rail and airports in the East under pressure as Christmas getaway begins

The Christmas getaway begins Credit: PA

It's expected to be the busiest travelling day of the festive period today, as millions begin their Christmas getaway.

From today until January 3 a total of 300,000 passengers will be leaving Stansted Airport in Essex. Another 125,000 passengers will leave Luton.

Travel organisation Abta said a number of Britons were taking advantage of bumper snow levels at ski resorts, while travellers seeking winter sun were choosing such destinations as the Canary Islands, Tunisia, Cuba and Mexico.

On the roads, the Highways Agency, which is responsible for all of England's motorway and major A-roads, said more than 250 miles of roadworks will have been completed before Christmas.

In addition, a further 57 miles of works will be suspended between today and January 2.

The AA said the busiest days on the roads were expected to be today and tomorrow, with 60% of AA members likely to take to the roads over the festive period.

The busiest roads this weekend are likely to be the M25, the M6 in the West Midlands, the M1 near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, the M5 near Bristol and the M62 near Warrington in Cheshire.

Two main line rail strikes that threatened travel chaos over the Christmas period have been called off.

But on the Underground, the train drivers' union Aslef is stopping work on Boxing Day in a strike that has already led to the postponement of the London football derby between Arsenal and West Ham United.

Apart from the Aslef Tube strike, the main train problem is likely to be engineering work on the West Coast line.

This will mean there will be no direct services from Euston station in London to Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow on December 23 and 24.

Hourly services will run from Euston via an alternative route (Chilterns) to Nuneaton where passengers will be able to change for services heading to any and all the destinations mentioned above.

Direct services resume on December 27 but with two of the four lines closed up to and including New Year's Eve.