As the Christmas and New Year holiday comes to an end, for many people the hope of a quick return to normality seems forlorn.

The rail network is all but closed down this week because of strikes by the RMT and ASLEF trades unions.

There will be a limited service between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and London every day - but it will start later and finish much earlier than normal and be far less frequent.

There are no trains at all on any of the rural or cross country lines. There are strikes every day from Tuesday to Saturday and Greater Anglia's advice to those considering using the main line is: only travel if it is absolutely vital.

Anyone planning to attempt to travel on these days is advised to check the Greater Anglia website because the exact service changes on different days.

Drivers planning long journeys on major roads like the A14 to the Midlands or the A12 to London are being warned that National Highways staff will be on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The agency says this should have limited impact on individual journeys - but it does mean there will be fewer patrols to ensure there are no problems and signs warning of hazards ahead will not be fully maintained.

Ipswich Star: The industrial action might reduce the number of patrols on the A14 - and mean information signs take longer to update.The industrial action might reduce the number of patrols on the A14 - and mean information signs take longer to update. (Image: Archant)

A spokesman for National Highways urged anyone planning to make a long journey to check on their website for any hazards before setting out because there might not be information about them for drivers en route.

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.

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

No further strike dates have been announced by rail unions after this week's action - but their leaders have warned that more action is likely later this month if there are not successful talks with their employers and the government.