UK braced for road and rail disruption before Easter getaway

Patrick Greenfield

Long queues on roads and major rail disruption are expected over the Easter weekend as millions of people head off to enjoy the bank holiday sunshine.

Motorists have been urged to start their journeys early on Good Friday or delay trips until Saturday to avoid the worst traffic jams as temperatures rise across the British Isles, with parts of the UK expected to be hotter than Corfu and Mallorca.

Station closures and reduced services could frustrate rail passengers’ Easter plans as Network Rail carries out £100m of upgrades. London Euston, the fifth-busiest station in the UK, will be closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday. The works will also affect Birmingham, the north-west of England, parts of Scotland and south Wales.

Ten million people are expected to head off on an Easter holiday this year, including 2.1 million going abroad. Spain, Turkey and Egypt are among the most popular destinations, according to the Association of British Travel Agents, with airports, ferry terminals and the Channel tunnel expected to be extremely busy.

For those staying in the UK, the Met Office is forecasting dry and sunny weather across the country. Temperatures are expected to surpass 20C (68F), peaking at 23C in the south of England.

The Met Office chief meteorologist, Steve Willington, said: “With temperatures usually around 10C-13C at this time of year, it’s certainly going to be significantly warmer than average this Easter weekend and quite a contrast to the colder weather we have seen so far this month.”

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire are expected to be among the most popular tourist destinations over the Easter break as millions opt to stay in the UK.

VisitEngland’s communications and strategy 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 under way.

“Holidaying at home continues to be a great choice with the certainty of budgeting, the ease and convenience, and the quality on offer all tempting people to explore beyond their doorstep.”

Research by the RAC and Inrix, a data company, indicates there will be more than 4m car journeys for leisure trips on Good Friday, with the worst disruption expected between 11am and 4.30pm.

Jams are most likely in areas including the M62 between Leeds and Manchester, the M6 between Preston and Lancaster, and junctions four to 30 on the M25.

Highways England said it planned to remove more than 450 miles of roadworks in time for the Easter break, leaving 99% of motorways and major A-roads in England clear of cones.

Network Rail said fewer passenger use trains during bank holidays compared with working days, but admitted there was “never an ideal time to shut the railway for our must-do work”.