Festive Travel Advice Issued

The public are being asked to consider if they need to travel over the Christmas period. Earlier this week the Scottish Government published guidance for the festive period, which includes advice on travel: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Christmas and the festive period Travel restrictions are due to be eased next week, from December 23rd to December 27th, however Ministers are keen to remind communities that just because you can meet up indoors in limited numbers, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to.

People should avoid all travel between high prevalence and low prevalence areas – in particular, that means avoiding travel to or from Scotland and Tier 3 areas in England.
If people do travel to form a bubble, they are reminded they must follow the travel rules for the area they are staying in when they arrive. For example, if travelling to a Level 3 council area in Scotland, once you have arrived and formed your bubble you must avoid non-essential travel outside that area.

For those who do decide to travel during the five day window, operators have been raising awareness of the importance of planning and booking ahead. Transport Scotland has initiated and set up a Christmas travel preparedness group, bringing together representatives from all modes and sectors, to assess capacity and demand and manage any pressure points.

In terms of severe weather, the forecast is being regularly updated via the Met Office, however a record 230 gritters stand ready for deployment at 42 depots across Scotland across the trunk road network. Operating companies have already carried out more than 2,100 treatments, using over 10,000 tonnes of salt, this winter, with 105,000 tonnes left in stock.

British Transport Police have announced extra officers on the rail network over the festive period to ensure the safety of passengers and rail staff. It follows an increase in anti-social behaviour across the network last month where BTP increased patrols and worked in partnership with key stakeholders to tackle the issues. BTP is also urging the public to be respectful to rail staff, to continue following the health regulations when travelling during the festive period, to plan ahead for their journeys and avoid the busy times.

Latest modelling and survey data suggests that, compared to 2019, there is likely to be a significant drop in car, rail and bus travel over the festive period. Travelling by car remains the preferred mode across all demographic groups. In Scotland, 47 per cent of people have said they don’t intend to travel at all over the Christmas period, the lowest level in the UK. Around 4 in 10 people say they have already cancelled their travel plans.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
We recognise people have endured a very challenging year and the desire to see our friends and family over the festive period is probably stronger than ever. However I would reiterate that just because you are allowed to travel during December 23rd to December 27th, it doesn’t mean you have to. If you feel you can delay catching up and stay local then that could help us eradicate the threat of this virus sooner.
“For those who have decided to travel and those working over the festive period, our operating companies are ready should the worst of the weather move in, however motorists should ensure vehicles are winter ready and plan their journey, if they have to travel. If you are planning to use rail, ferry or air travel, check with your operator for the latest service information before setting off. We are not encouraging additional travel over the festive period and would urge the public to work with us on this. I would also like to pay tribute to staff who will be working over the festive period and keeping the network moving in often difficult conditions.”
Traffic Scotland operator manager Douglas Cairns said:
“The Traffic Scotland mobile site – my.trafficscotland.org – has up-to-date information on the trunk road network, and the Traffic Scotland Twitter page is updated regularly. Planning your journey will help make sure you reach your destinations in good time, and help everyone stay safe during the festive period. Transport Scotland will monitor the trunk road network from the National Traffic Control Centre in South Queensferry, working closely with key partner agencies including Police Scotland and the Met Office. Our key message is to ask people to consider carefully whether they need to travel, to check the conditions, and plan ahead.”
BTP Superintendent and Head of Operations in Scotland David Marshall said:
Our officers will continue patrolling the rail network, supporting rail staff in engaging with passengers about the importance of maintaining social distancing and reminding those who are travelling to wear face coverings. We would also urge the public to be respectful to rail staff who have worked throughout the pandemic. We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour on the network and we will be increasing our visibility patrols to ensure the railway remains a safe place to travel. We hope the public will continue to act responsibly and play their part in helping to protect themselves, and each other, by following the guidance and restrictions set out by the Scottish Government, as well as complying with the requirement to wear face coverings.”
RMT regional organiser Mick Hogg said:
“We would take this opportunity to wish all staff and passengers a Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. We would remind passengers that our members are there to keep everyone safe and they should not be subjected to any anti-social behaviour or assaults under any circumstances. Keeping Scotland’s railway safe to use is our number one priority.”
Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock said:
Although specific guidance is in place between 23rd and 27th December for Christmas bubbles, it is important to remember that significant restrictions will remain in place.
“We all have a part to play in keeping the roads safe and we urge drivers to remember the dangers of drink or drug driving, please don’t risk it over the festive period.
“Adverse weather can present potential challenges on the road network. Before setting off on your journey, please check your local weather forecasts and travel information and ensure your vehicle is ready for winter driving. If driving in snowy conditions take some key supplies such as water, warm clothing and food. Also ensure your phone is charged and your vehicle has sufficient fuel for the journey.”