Public transport is expected to be busier than usual this weekend as students head home for the Christmas holidays.

Those studying at the country’s universities have been given a ‘travel window’ spanning Thursday December 3 and Wednesday December 9.

This is to allow students to visit their families over the festive period.

It excludes students who have tested positive or been notified by the NHS test and trace system.

Public transport is expected to be busier than usual on December 5 and 6

But travellers have been warned that rail services - especially those spanning long distances - are expected to be busier than usual.

Transport for Greater Manchester has issued a warning, tweeting: “'Public transport is expected to be busier than usual on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December, in particular long-distance #rail services.

“This is due to #students travelling home before #Christmas.”

TfGM has advised students to plan ahead, book in advance for public transport and allow extra time for journeys.

They should avoid travelling at the busiest times of day - between 7 and 9am and 3 and 6pm on weekdays.

Public transport is also expected to be busier than usual on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December, in particular long-distance rail services.

Travellers must wear a face covering if travelling on public transport unless they are exempt.

Meanwhile, the government has published plans for students heading home.

Now lockdown restrictions have been lifted students are asked to stick to the travel window of December 3 to 9, advice on the government's website states.

Those who do not return home by December 9 will be advised to undertake a further 14-day period of restricted contact either before or after returning home to minimise the risk of transmission.

Universities have been asked to stagger the end of face to face provision to alleviate pressures on public transport.

December 9 has been chosen to make sure the last date students are required on campus allows enough time for students to complete self-isolation before Christmas, should they develop symptoms that day or be identified as a contact by the tracing system.

Students studying in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland should follow the guidance from their institutions before returning home to England, the guidance states.

Once they return to England, they should follow English guidance for their home area.

It adds: “In deciding where they want to undertake these measures, students should take into account the risks of transmission to their household on return home, in particular, if any of their household are more vulnerable.

Manchester Piccadilly station

“Following the end of term break, our top priority for January will be the welfare of students, staff and the communities around higher education providers.

“We are looking to utilise mass testing to make the return to higher education as safe as possible and will provide further guidance in due course, considering future developments and the relevant scientific advice.”

Further guidance for students travelling home this week is available here.