Expect travel chaos over Easter as 16 million drivers hit the roads
Good Friday is expected to be the busiest travel day as those seeking to get away for Easter are forced to travel by car amid widespread rail disruption
Families hoping to get away for Easter have been warned to expect some of the worst traffic in years, as an estimated 16 million drivers take to the roads in a chaotic weekend for transport.
Good Friday will be the busiest travel day, with many families unable to get away sooner because most schools do not break up until Thursday, as a result of Easter falling so early.
In some parts of the country, the bank holiday weekend falls outside the two-week school break, meaning travel plans will be concentrated into a shorter period than normal.
The congestion is set to be compounded by the most comprehensive ever programme of Easter railway engineering works, meaning many Britons will have no choice but to drive rather than take public transport.
Simon Williams of the RAC said 5.1m cars are expected to use major roads on Good Friday alone – more than any year since 2012.
“We are expecting 16 million cars to be travelling for the purpose of leisure trips from Good Friday through to Easter Monday,” he said.
Friday will be the “big peak” he said: “We haven’t seen such a big Good Friday travel day for quite a few years.”
He added: “It’s looking like a bad Friday on the roads not a Good Friday”.
Routes to the southwest are expected to be especially crowded, as well as roads to major airports.
“The advice is to get away as early as you can, have alternative routes in mind and keep on top of the traffic with local radio,” Mr Williams said. “Expect your journey to take longer and hopefully be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.”
Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA said low petrol prices could also encourage people to travel by road.
Highways England has vowed to minimise congestion by clearing routes of roadworks. The body, which is responsible for managing motorways and major A roads, has promised to finish or pause 208 projects, leaving 97 percent of routes unclogged.
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said: “This is good news for millions of families and hard-working people who will be travelling and taking advantage of the four-day break”.
Meanwhile journeys on public transport will be hampered by 450 engineering projects on mainline routes, 75 more than last year.
Network Rail is billing the disruption as “the biggest ever Easter investment programme.”
But travel expert Ian Baldry, of IBPTS travel consultants, predicted “severe disruption” and warned that Network Rail had been “over-ambitious”.
“There’s bound to be disruption somewhere on Tuesday morning with overrunning engineering works with disruption to commuters.”
Delays will hit all six of Britain’s main line routes, linking London with the West, the Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Norwich and Weymouth.
Airport travel will also be affected, with the Gatwick Express from London Victoria out of action for four days, and London Underground Piccadilly Line services to Heathrow hit by a strike on Maundy Thursday.
Mr Baldry said: “Friday is going to be a busy getaway day with the rail replacement buses, everyone taking other options like going by car. There’s going to be bottlenecks and chaos.”