Easter travel warning with ’14 million’ holiday road journeys, record numbers at airports and major rail works planned | Travel News

The RAC warns that journeys on popular routes could take twice as long as usual, while Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh airports say they predict a record number of passengers. Network Rail will also carry out engineering work between London Euston and Milton Keynes.

By Dylan Donnelly, news reporter

Britons have been warned of long delays on their Easter getaways with more than 14 million journeys expected on the roads, airports prepared for a record number of passengers, and engineering works on key rail services.

The RAC warned that journeys on popular routes could take twice as long as usual, as the bank holiday weekend leads into a two-week holiday for many schools.

Trains are also set to be stopped as Network Rail carries out engineering works on the West Coast Main Line – which stretches from the capital to Scotland – between London Euston and Milton Keynes.

And at least three major airports have said that the coming days will be their busiest ever Easter weekend.

Travel expert Simon Calder told Sky News that Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh all predict a record number of passengers from Good Friday to Easter Monday, with routes to Geneva tipped to be extremely busy.

Around two million Britons are expected to fly away over the holiday weekend, with Bristol predicting 30,000 holiday-goers on Easter Sunday alone.

Airports will stay busy over the school holidays, with Luton expecting to see around 38 passengers a minute on 5 April.

Business airports like Heathrow will see “a lot of pressure today”, according to Mr Calder, who added that increased demand has been caused by Easter falling earlier than usual.

“With Easter Sunday on 31 March, actually a lot of schools are breaking up today which is putting extra pressure on what would already be a busy Easter,” he said.

On Sunday 7 April, Gatwick and Southampton are set to see their busiest days.

Around two million Britons are expected to fly away over the holiday weekend. File pic: PA

No ‘good time’ for rail works

The West Coast Main Line will be closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday, with disruption to rail services also expected in Glasgow and Huddersfield.

Laurence Bowman, Network Rail’s network strategy director, said earlier this week that there is “never a good time to do the work we need to do”, but explained that a lower number of commuters over the bank holiday weekend gives them “the opportunity to do major work we couldn’t do in a normal weekend”.

“We’ve got 493 different pieces of work taking place this Easter, most happening overnight,” he added, “including laying over 8,000 metres of new rail and putting down over 40,000 tonnes of new ballast to support the tracks.”


RAC spokesperson Alice Simpson warned it “could be carmageddon” over Easter and said heavy traffic and “lengthy queues can be expected along routes to the usual hotspots”.

Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue also said that “drivers should be prepared for longer journeys than normal throughout the entire weekend”.

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The West Coast Main Line will be closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday. File pic: PA

Worst times to travel

A survey commissioned by the RAC and Inrix found that 2.6 million journeys are planned on Good Friday, with around 2.3 million trips expected for both Easter Saturday and Sunday.

Another two million trips are expected on Thursday and Easter Monday, and a further 3.3 million journeys are due with no clear starting date, making for a total of around 14.5 million journeys.

Inrix and Mr Calder both separately predicted that the worst of the traffic is expected between 2pm and 7pm on Thursday when holiday journeys mix with regular commutes.

Inrix added that the busiest route is set to be the western section of the M25 between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 for Hertfordshire where journeys from 4pm are tipped to take more than two hours, more than twice as long as usual.

The M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton, and the M3 between the M25 and the south coast are also likely to be congested, according to Inrix, with estimated journey times more than double what they normally are.

The survey, from research company Find Out Now, polled 2,136 UK adults.

The RAC and Inrix say around 2.3 million trips expected for both Easter Saturday and Sunday. File pic: PA

A yellow weather warning for strong winds is also in effect on Thursday, with unsettled conditions from Storm Nelson likely to further disrupt travel.

The Met Office said the alert applies from 7am until 6pm on Thursday and extends in a band from locations such as St Ives and Penzance in the South West across to Brighton.

Sky News weather producer Christopher England also said: “It’ll stay mostly unsettled into next week, with further heavy showers or longer spells of rain, and 70mph gusts near Channel coasts, thanks to the Spanish-named Storm Nelson.”

More delays in Dover

Meanwhile, Britons taking ferries should be able to embark without much issue, with the exception of the Port of Dover where French border staff check passports before leaving the UK.

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In a statement, the port pointed to France’s heightened terror alert after the attack in Moscow, saying: “These measures may increase border processing times at the port.

“Please be mindful of this when travelling to the port and check with your ferry operator for arrival times.”

Last year saw severe delays and long queues at the port with wait times stretching up to two hours.

From 2023: ‘Severe’ delays for Easter travel

Around 20,000 cars are expected to travel through Dover’s port between Thursday and Easter. A Coach Processing Facility has been set up in the Western Docks for Thursday and Saturday in a bid to ease travel.

Coach passengers and motorists will be processed away from the main port, and then moved to the Eastern Port for a quick passport check, before embarking on their ferry journey.

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