Petrol Prices Soar As Christmas Getaway Grinds To A Halt
Drivers are facing the highest prices at petrol stations for four years, just as Britons prepare to take to the roads for the busy Christmas period.
It comes after travel chaos struck the UK on what was dubbed “frantic Friday”, as the last of the year’s commuter traffic clashed with the festive getaway.
At Bristol Airport, a plane which landed from Frankfurt slid off the runway while taxiing to the terminal, leading to dozens of flights being cancelled and disruption for thousands of passengers.
On the M40, there were 10-mile long traffic jams in both directions after a lorry carrying beer caught fire on the southbound carriageway near Bicester, Oxfordshire.
Meanwhile, rail bosses faced anger from passengers on the busiest travel day of the year after warning train services would be cancelled on Friday evening due to a “shortage of train crew”. South Western Railway said 30 services would be affected after a high number of train guards and drivers called in sick.
The fuel price rise will come as a blow to drivers, who are expected to make more than 17.5 million leisure trips between the 23 December and New Year’s Day, as people rush to their families over the weekend and take advantage of the post-Christmas sales.
Mid-week, petrol averaged 120.69p per litre across the UK, compared to 115.8p this time last year. In 2015, petrol prices over Christmas were just 103.4p.
Diesel averaged 123.2p per litre this week, compared with 118.4p last year and 106.8p in 2015, according to the AA’s Fuel Price Report.
The last time drivers were faced with steeper prices at Christmas was in 2013. when petrol cost 131p per litre and diesel 138.4p.
Britons, who will be taking to motorways en masse this weekend, have also been warned they could be spending a lot more on petrol if they fill up at service stations instead of cheaper supermarket pumps.
A 200-mile trip from London to Manchester would typically cost £26.47 from an Asda fuel pump (116.59p per litre), but £31.08 from an M25 motorway service pump (136.9p a litre).
“Travellers under pressure, whether during work hours or heavy-traffic periods such as the Christmas getaway, feel abused,” said the AA president Edmund King.
“Train fares go up 3.4 per cent next year, motorway pump prices are up to 20p a litre dearer than at supermarkets, and parking and bus lane fines are reaped on an industrial scale.
“This all adds to the sense felt by drivers and other people who just want to get around that they are seen as being ripe for exploitation.”
The price rise means a petrol car averaging 40 miles per gallon and being driven home from London to Exeter will consume fuel worth £21.97 this Christmas, compared to £21.08 last year and £18.82 in 2015.
The number of cars on the road could be even higher than normal due to a series of strikes by rail workers, which threaten to reduce services on a number of days over the festive period.
Some 260 engineering projects on the railway will also disrupt journeys.
Highways England has lifted almost 400 miles of road works to help accommodate the additional traffic over the festive period. Almost 99 per cent of motorways and major A roads will be free of works until 2 January 2018, the agency said.
The grounding of flights at Bristol Airport happened at 11.30am after an Embraer 145 plane slid off the runway. The BMI jet had flown from Frankfurt with 25 people on board, all of whom were unhurt.
The airport told passengers not to expect the runway to reopen until at least 9pm. Although no official figures were published, it is estimated that between 8,000 to 10,000 passengers in the UK and abroad were likely to face disruption.