Alternatives to train as rail strikes set to cause chaos over Christmas period

A fresh set of train strikes is set to bring Britain’s railways to a grinding halt over the Christmas period and could cause chaos for millions.

More than 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union ( RMT ) are due to walk out on 13, 14 and 15 of December, and then 3, 4, 6 and 7 of January.

The dispute, which will see workers again strike over pay and conditions, has been rumbling on without resolution since June.

With many people looking to head home and visit friends around Christmas, the winter walk-out is likely to be particularly disruptive.

If you’ve not got a car or are looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, then here are some suggestions.

One way car hire
Renting a car is typically quite expensive if done through the traditional providers, and not the kind of expense many of us want to be making during the expensive Christmas season.

One way to borrow a car at significantly reduced rates is through single journey schemes.

Many rental outlets, such as Europcar, let you drive their vehicles for as little as £1 a journey if that car needs relocating after being driven by a previous customer.

It’s a particularly good scheme if you live in cities such as Edinburgh or Bristol, where many tourists from London visit and leave a hire car.

Lift share
What’s not to like about lift sharing?

Not only do you get to save the planet by jumping in with someone else, the scheme lets you split petrol costs, and spend time with friends and family heading to the same parties/events.

Travelling solo? There are plenty of websites matching people with vehicles and those needing a lift.

Just make sure to keep your loved ones updated on your journey and stick to reputable websites such as Liftshare and Karshare.

Take a coach
Coaches are typically cheaper than trains, with companies such as Megabus often laying on lengthy journeys for a third of the price of what it costs to go by rail.

Single trips between the Scottish and English capitals can go for as little as £13, for example.

If you’re planning to catch a long distance coach ahead of Christmas then make sure to do it sooner rather than later, as the good deals tend to get hoovered up quickly.

Car rental by the hour
Gone are the days of having to book a hire car weeks in advance and lock it in for several days.

Now there are several apps which allow you to unlock a motor with the need for a car and with very little notice.

Added to the convenience is the fact you can pay by the hour or even half hour, making them perfect for shorter trips when you’ve got that extra bit of luggage to bring along.

Uber has recently entered the car hire market and let you book vehicles through the ride hailing app.

Zipcar is probably the most established service in the UK with more than 3,000 vehicles across a number of cities, and prices starting at £3.50 an hour.

If app-based car hire doesn’t quite logistically work for you, then peer-to-peer car rental may be the way forward.

Through websites such as Co-Wheels and Enterprise Car Club you can rent a motor from someone who lives near you, often at much cheaper prices than traditional hire companies.