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Strikes hit festive travellers

Britons heading for Brussels are enduring travel disruption as the Christmas getaway begins in earnest.

A 24-hour strike by Belgian workers meant London to Brussels trains run by Channel Tunnel high-speed rail company Eurostar had to start and finish at Lille in northern France.

A limited coach service was operating between Lille and Brussels. Eurostar's London-Paris services were operating normally.

Back in the UK, with abnormally mild weather predominating, drivers have been warned to prepare for the busiest days of the festive period on the roads.

The AA has said it expects up to 18 million cars will take to the roads over the holiday period.

It predicted that getaway traffic in the run-up to Christmas was likely to be heavy on major routes, including the M1 in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, the M4 between London and Newbury in Berkshire, the M25 around London, and the M4 and M5 in the West Country.

Meanwhile, the Highways Agency, which is responsible for England's motorways and major A-roads, said it planned to complete more than 500 miles of roadworks before Christmas while a further 60 miles will be suspended from Friday until January 3.

In total, 118 sets of roadworks should be finished by Christmas, with works staying in place at 26 locations, including a 32-mile section of the M1 near Luton in Bedfordshire.

For those taking domestic train services in the UK over Christmas and New Year, buses are replacing trains on some rail routes. As much as £109 million of work is being done on the rail network, with projects including work at Birmingham New Street station and at Reading station in Berkshire.

A total of 4.25 million Britons are due to travel overseas between December 16 and January 3, with the Canary Islands, Cuba and Mexico proving to be popular destinations.


From Belfast Telegraph