RECORD numbers will hit the roads this Easter Bank Holiday weekend with motorists facing the worst jams tomorrow.
Jams will peak on Friday with major routes clogging up between 11am and 4.30pm, according to Inrix, the analytics provider, with the M25 anticlockwise from Bromley (J4) through the Dartford Tunnel to the A13 (J30) among the worst congested in the UK.
The RAC said 15 million leisure car journeys are being taken in the run-up to Good Friday, with a further 12 million across the Bank Holiday weekend itself.
George Flinton, AA patrol of the year, said: “There will be a lot of pressure on major routes, particularly motorways and routes to coastal regions and Channel ports.
“Expect delays and allow plenty of extra time for your journey, particularly if you have a ferry to catch.”
Airlines, however, reported “massive bookings” despite the worries over Brexit, with easyJet reporting its busiest Easter getaway ever.
Stations shut, airport strike and busy M25
Rail and TfL
Mainline Euston and Fenchurch Street stations closed all four days. Further closures of the West Coast Main Line near Preston and Glasgow. Network Rail warns of a major impact on journeys.
Fenchurch Street services diverted to Liverpool Street Station. Buses replace trains between Barking and Aldgate Street.
Major engineering work across South Western Railway network affecting services to and from mainline Waterloo station over all four days.
Most Tube services will operate but there are changes to Hammersmith & City, Circle and District lines services over parts of the route on some days.
Also some changes to London Overground and Docklands Light Railway services on some days.
All main routes very busy tomorrow and Saturday. Highways England has lifted 459 miles of roadworks from early this morning on motorways and A roads until 12.01am next Tuesday.
The M25 is listed by RAC as being among the busiest in the UK for holiday traffic over all four days. With huge numbers of breakdowns expected, Rod Dennis of RAC Traffic Watch, said drivers could avoid both expense and trouble if they checked their vehicle beforehand. “Wrongly inflated tyres, or those with lack of tread, along with low oil and coolant levels and even a lack of fuel are all typical breakdowns at this time of the year,” he said. “It is therefore vital motorists spend a few moments checking these things before getting behind the wheel.”
A planned strike by some baggage handlers at Heathrow’s Terminals 2 and 4 from 12am on Friday, April 26 to 11.59pm on Monday, April 29 threatens disruption for thousands of travellers who will be returning from the Easter break.
Airlines involved include Air India, Thai Airlines, Alitalia, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Gulf Air, Air Serbia, Air Mauritius, Bulgaria Air, TunisAir, Tarom and Air Malta. A Heathrow spokesman said the airport is “confident appropriate contingency plans are in place to manage strike action”.
A second baggage handlers’ strike planned at Luton Airport from 6pm on Friday, April 26 and lasting all week until 5.59pm on Friday May 3 could be called off following an improved pay offer.
Gatwick said 550,000 passengers will be travelling through the airport over the holiday weekend — up 5.1 per cent on 2018.
Network Rail engineering work means Euston and Fenchurch Street stations will be closed on all four days, with major changes to services to and from Waterloo mainline station.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of transport user watchdog Transport Focus, warned: “For passengers wanting to travel over the Bank Holiday engineering works could be a major inconvenience.”
Tracks are being replaced on the Tube, meaning disruption to the Circle, Hammersmith & City and District lines.
For many national parks, Easter trails at castles and estates and traditional gardens such as Blenheim are competing with bucket-shop foreign holidays, with many preferring to stay at home rather than suffer the hassle of packed airport lounges and flights.
Tourist agency VisitEngland said the number of British people planning overnight trips this Easter is the highest since surveys began in 2013. Some 7.4 million people are reported to be planning overnight holidays in the UK, providing a £1.8 billion boost to the economy.
Director Patricia Yates said: “It is great to see so many Brits are planning holidays at home in the UK in what is set to be a cracking Easter, bringing a boost for businesses and local economies as the summer season gets underway.”
Easter, however, still attracts those taking the first foreign holidays of the year, with Abta, the travel association, estimating three million people either taking holidays between now and May Day or a long weekend. Florida, New York and Vietnam top the list for those taking a longer break while Majorca, Turkey and mainland Spain are favoured for Easter. For the stay-at-homes, the Lake District, Edinburgh, York and London are proving the most popular.
Abta’s Mark Tanzer said: “The Brexit extension should give people total confidence to book their holidays knowing that nothing will change regarding travel arrangements to the EU throughout the summer.”