Government urged to implement strict rules to avoid Christmas travel ‘chaos’

Cars pass a Covid warning sign on the eastbound M8 motorway in Glasgow ahead of the introduction of further coronavirus restrictions on November 20, 2020. – Swathes of western and central Scotland prepared to enter a three-week period of restrictions this evening. From 6:00 pm (1800 GMT) non-essential shops, hospitality, gyms and beauty salons will shut in 11 council areas including the most populous city of Glasgow. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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The government has been asked to implement a “comprehensive travel plan” to avoid a rise in coronavirus infections among people going home for Christmas.

Labour has suggested that peak rail fares are suspended and mass coronavirus testing administered to transport workers ahead of the festive season.

Under the government’s current plans, travel rules will be eased from December 23 to 27 and three households will be allowed to mix in a bubble for these five days.

But Labour has urged transport secretary Grant Shapps to present a detailed plan to Parliament in order to “keep families safe”.

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Social distance sign at Leeds train station at the start of a four week national lockdown for England. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Labour shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “Families will be looking forward to travelling to see one another this Christmas after a really tough year.

“However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The virus still poses a very serious risk to people’s health.

“That’s why ministers need to come to Parliament on Monday with a comprehensive travel plan to ensure families travelling across the country are kept safe and chaos on our roads and rail network is avoided.

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“This is too important for the Government to ignore or leave until to the last minute. This is about protecting lives and livelihoods.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) said on Friday that Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy had been appointed as a Christmas travel tsar.

Watch: Shapps outlines new quarantine rules for international arrivals

The DfT also said it will publish measures aimed at easing travel disruption next week, which will take into account analysis of demand for advance train tickets and public surveys.

In the meantime, Shapps has urged people to plan their journeys “very carefully” and “where possible book well in advance”.

He said: “As some advance tickets go on sale and people begin to plan their journeys, we are closely assessing demand on the network and have already taken actions to minimise potential disruption.

“We are currently developing a plan focused on tackling disruption – including running longer trains and relaxing rules to allow more types of coaches to run.”

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