Manchester’s Christmas markets are back for 2019 and passengers are being urged to 'think in threes' when planning their journeys with record numbers expected to travel in and out of the city by train.

The market opens on Friday (8 November) and Network Rail is advising rail travellers to plan ahead for the smoothest journey possible.

Millions of people are expected to visit Manchester for the markets until 23 December, with many using the railway to enjoy the city's festive events and attractions.

Network Rail’s top three travel tips are:

Last year nearly 500,000 people used Manchester Piccadilly station during the markets' opening weekend, and while the stalls are a great addition to the city, it can mean trains and platforms are much busier.

While the Christmas markets take place, passenger numbers at Manchester Piccadilly station rise by up to 40,000 each day, peaking at 160,000 in total.

That’s compared to the average of 120,000 passengers using the station daily during the rest of the year.

As with previous years, queuing systems may be used at exceptionally busy times to safely allow people to board their trains home.

Extra staff will be on hand to help passengers between Thursday and Sunday every weekend in the run up to Christmas.

Scott Green, Network Rail’s station manager at Manchester Piccadilly, said: “The Christmas markets and festive season are great for Manchester but marks the start of the busiest time of the year for Manchester Piccadilly. With busier trains, platforms and station concourse, I’m urging passengers to ‘think in threes' to make travelling in and out of the city as easy as possible.

“Planning your journey, checking before you travel and knowing the times of your trains home will really help everyone. There will be extra staff in place across the station to provide advice and information and help keep passengers safe throughout the festive season.”

Passengers are also being urged to think ahead and plan their journeys if they will be using the rail network over Christmas.

As part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail will be carrying out improvement work across Britain between 24 December and 2 January which may affect journeys.

Passengers can plan their Christmas travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk/christmas; for specific Manchester Piccadilly station information follow @NetworkRailMAN on Twitter or check with your train operator.