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Festive travellers are facing disruption to Christmas getaway plans as a combination of industrial action and Omicron staff sickness has led to air and rail delays.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said a strike by its members who are train managers and senior conductors at CrossCountry is being “solidly supported in all depots”.

The action means CrossCountry, which runs trains from Scotland and northern England via the Midlands to South Wales and southern England, is running a heavily reduced service on Christmas Eve.

The cancellation of train services by operators across Britain due to pandemic-related staff shortages also continues, with LNER, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, Northern, ScotRail, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express among those affected.

Meanwhile, Network Rail is preparing to begin 370 engineering projects on the railways, which will also disrupt services.

Heathrow Airport will be cut off from the rail and Tube network on Christmas Day and Boxing Day due to Network Rail and Transport for London doing simultaneous work.

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Thousands of holidays axed over Omicron restrictions

Thousands of holidays during the festive period have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by destinations.

Winter sports operator Crystal Ski has axed its trips to Austria departing on 27 December after the country introduced tougher entry requirements due to the Omicron variant.

Austria announced on Wednesday that arrivals from the UK will be required to quarantine for 10 days from Saturday unless they are fully vaccinated including a booster dose, and have evidence of a recent negative PCR test.

Cruise line MSC Cruises has cancelled four sailings from the UK by its ship MSC Magnifica due to pandemic restrictions across Europe.

The cruises, due to depart from Southampton on 21 and 28 December, and 4 and 11 January, were scheduled to call at France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has been put into lockdown until at least mid-January, while Germany has joined France in prohibiting UK tourists.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has reduced its planned January capacity by a third.

Chiara Giordano24 December 2021 13:52

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Millions embark on last-minute Christmas getaway

Millions of people are embarking on a last-gasp getaway to spend Christmas with friends and relatives.

The AA estimated there would be 17.8 million cars on UK roads today, as drivers making Christmas Eve leisure journeys and trips to buy presents compete for road space with commuters.

The worst queues were expected to take place in Wiltshire on the A303 between West Solstice Park and the A36, according to the RAC and traffic information supplier Inrix.

National Highways reported “severe” congestion on the M6 between Junctions 5 and 6 near Birmingham at 11.30am.

Chiara Giordano24 December 2021 13:30

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Why does travel always go wrong at Christmas?

You may find yourself wondering why travel always seems to go wrong at Christmas.

But is that actually the case? Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has taken a closer look in this piece:

Chiara Giordano24 December 2021 13:11

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Train strike, Omicron and flight cancellations affect Brits’ festive plans

Festive travellers are facing disruption to Christmas getaway caused by a combination of industrial action and Omicron staff sickness.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said a strike by its members who are train managers and senior conductors at CrossCountry is being “solidly supported in all depots”.

The action means CrossCountry, which runs trains from Scotland and northern England via the Midlands to South Wales and southern England, is running a heavily reduced service on Christmas Eve.

Hundreds of other trains are cancelled across Great Britain because so many rail staff are isolating because of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has more details here:

Chiara Giordano24 December 2021 12:59

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Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of the cancellations and delays facing those attempting to travel home for Christmas.

We’ll guide you through the latest travel news and updates throughout today.

Chiara Giordano24 December 2021 12:58

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