Traffic congestion and rail closures to disrupt UK bank holiday travel


Drivers and train passengers have been warned they face congestion and disruption over the bank holiday weekend, with motoring organisations forecasting the biggest early May getaway for seven years and a main rail line partly closed.

The RAC said it estimated 17.2m leisure trips would be taken by car in the UK between Friday 28 April and Monday 1 May, the most for the May bank holiday since 2016.

Congestion is likely to be worse on the month’s first bank holiday than the subsequent long weekend break for the coronation, when the RAC expects fewer than 15m leisure trips.

“The big variable, as always, is what happens with the Great British weather. If temperatures finally increase and the sun makes more of an appearance, we could well see many more people jumping in the car for a quick trip.”

Despite the overall number of cars on the road, the transport analytics firm Inrix said there was unlikely to be a repeat of the delays seen in the worst of the Easter traffic jams. However, it said drivers should plan for possible long delays on the M5 southbound after Bristol and M6 northbound after Chester, and on main roads around greater London.

Bob Pishue, an analyst at Inrix, said: “Travel times will likely peak on Friday afternoon with some areas seeing double the travel times as holiday travellers mix with commuters, but drivers should be prepared for added congestion throughout the holiday weekend.”

The Port of Dover, which experienced long queues at the start of the Easter school holidays because of a spike in demand for ferry travel combined with post-Brexit border delays, said it does not expect a recurrence of April’s traffic.

Fewer travellers are expected, while additional measures put in place by the port and French police for the Easter weekend that averted further gridlock will be deployed again, a spokesperson said.

Rail passengers have been urged to check before travelling, with no trains running out of London Euston station on Sunday. Services from the London hub will also be severely limited on Saturday, affecting Avanti and London Northwestern trains on the west coast mainline.