Drivers urged to plan ahead for new year journeys as strikes hit highways

National Highways is urging motorists to plan ahead for journeys in the new year amid another strike by some of its workers as traffic levels return to normal after the Christmas break.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) are planning a national walkout on January 3 and 4 – the first working days after the holiday season in England.

National Highways said it has put in place “well-rehearsed resilience plans” to ensure that the 4,500-mile strategic road network remains open and safe and is confident the industrial action will have minimal overall impact.

But it expects roads to be busy on both days and drivers are being asked to plan ahead, particularly with national rail strikes being staged at the same time.

It is advising people to check for road conditions and any congestion before embarking on a journey.

The Met Office is forecasting showers and spells of heavy rain this week.

Duncan Smith, executive director of operations at National Highways, said: “A small minority of front-line operational staff are involved in the PCS strikes, which have had minimal overall impact so far.

“We have well-rehearsed resilience plans in place to continue managing and operating our network safely, including when wider action takes place in the new year.

“Millions of people rely on our roads and there is a possibility that they may be busier than usual on strike days, particularly as they fall on the first working days after the festive break when industrial action is also being staged on other transport modes.

“We’d urge drivers to plan ahead and check their vehicle is in good working condition.”

PCS members strike
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Members of PCS at National Highways have already staged three regionally-focused strikes over the last month which involved some front-line operational staff – those in regional operations centres and on-road traffic officers.

National Highways said they have had no impact on the operation of motorways and major A-roads.

The PCS is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the Government over pay and is staging a series of strikes by its members across the civil service.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Previous strikes elsewhere in England have caused disruption for people travelling over the Christmas period, and this strike is likely to do the same.

“While we regret people’s travel plans will be affected, we make it very clear this strike could be called off today if the Prime Minister or Chancellor put money on the table.”