Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LONDON TRANSFORMATION; Christmas Rush-Hour Roads Empty as We Stop Work to Go Shopping

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LONDON TRANSFORMATION; Christmas Rush-Hour Roads Empty as We Stop Work to Go Shopping

Article excerpt

Byline: ELIZABETH HOPKIRK;ROSS LYDALL

THIS is London at 9.30am on a weekday.

Where normally there would be bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic, our pictures - taken from a helicopter - show clear motorways and trunk roads.

Any Londoners who commute by car and who have not already abandoned their desk for Christmas will find their journey to work is wonderfully clear.

On the M11, there were so few cars you could have strolled across in safety.

The A40 out of Uxbridge, normally a hot spot, was also clear, as was the Hanger Lane gyratory - whose name normally strikes fear into the heart of any motorist.

Nearer town, the streets were equally free of traffic.

Taxi driver Steve Mcnamara said: "There's absolutely no one about.

Everyone's gone on holiday because Christmas is now a three-week affair.

It won't get busy again until 12 January.

Any cabbie out there at the moment is wasting his time." Yesterday, when the pictures were taken, there was one car heading into London on Chiswick Bridge and a smattering going the other way. It was a similar story on every crossing along the Thames. On Putney Bridge there were more buses than cars and on Albert Bridge there were only three vehicles altogether.

AA spokeswoman Rebecca Rees predicted light traffic all week. She added: "There's no doubt the main getaway was Friday afternoon. The roads were very, very busy. Not only did the schools break up but a lot of people finished work. Today will be even quieter, although we will see a mini-getaway on Christmas Eve."

She said there have, however, been queues on the approaches to outoftown centres such as Bluewater, which could be last-minute shoppers avoiding the congestion-charge zone.

TRAINS & TUBE

RUSH-HOUR trains into London have been much quieter than normal this week, but services are filling up with shoppers later in the day.

Silverlink, West Anglia, C2C, South Central, South West Trains and former Connex South East services, now run by South East Trains, have been particularly quiet.

Meanwhile, long-distance services out of London are full of people getting away for Christmas. …

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