Christmas getaway
Congestion is expected on roads, rail and in the air as people travel home for Christmas. Reuters

Up to 18 million cars are expected on roads across the UK as people head home for Christmas.

Major motorway routes are likely to experience congestion on the busiest day of the holiday getaway.

Delays may be expected on the M1 in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordsire, the M4 between London and Newbury, the M25 around London and the M4 and M5 in the West Country.

The Highways Agency planned to finish 118 sets of roadworks by Christmas, the largest being a 32-mile-long section on the M1 near Luton.

Projects are also taking place on the M62 near Huddersfield, the M4 near Wokingham and the M25 near St Albans.

The coach company National Express had its busiest day of the year on Thursday, when it laid on an extra 15,000 seats to deal with an anticipated rise in demand.

Train passengers are also apt to experience delays on some routes where track replacement work is taking place and replacement bus services will be available. Major work will be taking place at Reading station in Berkshire and Birmingham New Street station.

"Although there will be some rail replacement services, this year the focus is very much on keeping passengers on trains and off the roads, so there will be an additional 54,000 trains running over the Christmas period and half the number of rail replacement services," a National Rail spokesman said.

"We are expecting to see around 20 million rail journeys taking place throughout the period from 23 December to 3 January, so things will be busy. Most of the rail repair works will be taking place on the quieter times, but we urge anyone not sure about their service to check it online," he added.

Airports and ports are also expecting to be busy, as people travel abroad over the holiday season to see family or for a holiday in the sun. Airports across the UK are expecting to see around 4.25 passengers pass through their gates over Christmas and into the new year.

As people continue to feel the effects of the recession, the budget airline Easyjet had 1,166 flights planned for takeoff on Friday alone.