Chelmsford has been treated to an early Christmas present after it was announced Sandon Park and Ride would be open for three Sundays in the lead-up to Christmas.

The Sunday service, which is funded Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council and One Chelmsford, will run from 9.30am until 5pm on three successive Sundays on 8, 15 and 22 December at the Sandon Park and Ride site. Tickets will be priced at £1.50 for adults and £1 for children.

The boost comes as preliminary works got underway last night (Monday 25 November) ahead of the removal of the Army and Navy flyover in the new year.

The works, which will be completed overnight between 8pm and 5.30am, will include the removal of the automated flyover signs on the A1114 Essex Yeomanry Way and A1016 Parkway approaches to the junction. They are scheduled to be completed on Saturday 7 December, with the dismantling of the flyover structure itself expected to start in late January 2020.

To help minimise congestion and delays at the junction over the busy Christmas and New Year period, the council is encouraging people to consider switching to other modes of transport such as buses, bikes or walking, where possible.

As well as the Sunday service, a special all-day group ticket offer is available throughout this winter for the city’s Park and Ride services at both Sandon and Chelmer Valley, allowing up to two adults and three children to travel for just £5.

First Essex has also introduced a special Chelmsford City Centre Zone fare, enabling discounted single and return bus travel within the designated zone. Adult tickets are £1 for a single or £1.50 for a return and child tickets are 70p for a single or £1 for a return.

Weekly tickets are available for the wider Chelmsford fare zone for the equivalent of just £2.70 a day. Further information can be found at: www.firstgroup.com/essex/tickets/ticket-types/chelmsford-city.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “We all know what a busy time of year winter can be, particularly as we get closer to the Christmas and New Year period.

“The Army and Navy is a crucial gateway to the city of Chelmsford and we are working incredibly hard on options for a long-term solution at the junction, as well as further measures to manage congestion and delays in the interim.

“We can all play our part by avoiding travelling at peak times and switching to alternative transport, wherever possible.

“With good offers available on Park and Ride and bus services, whether you’re commuting, Christmas shopping or visiting family and friends, you can take the hassle out of your journey and help keep Chelmsford moving this winter.

“The city centre road network is already at 96 per cent capacity in peak periods and more sustainable travel is vital, not only now, but to enable Chelmsford to grow and flourish in the future.”

More information about travel options in Essex, including car sharing, Park and Ride services, walking and cycle routes, and bus services, is available at: www.essex.gov.uk/travelplanning.

Five initial options for a long-term solution at the Army and Navy junction were shared with the public for the first time earlier this month and a public information brochure can be found online at: www.essex.gov.uk/armyandnavy.