Traffic jams and rail closures to disrupt bank holiday travel

Traffic on M25

Major roads are likely to be busiest between 10am and 3pm over the bank holiday weekend. Photograph: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Severe traffic congestion and rail closures will hamper this weekend’s bank holiday getaway.

An RAC survey suggests 22m leisure trips have been planned between Friday and Monday, which will lead to “some extensive jams”.

This is 8m more trips than the late May bank holiday weekend last year and is the most since the RAC began asking drivers about their bank holiday travel plans.

Forecasters expect the weekend to start off dry and bright in most regions before turning cooler. Getaways are expected to peak on Saturday with 6.6mtrips, according to the RAC’s survey of 1,709 UK drivers.

Major roads are likely to be busiest between 10am and 3pm on Saturday. Motorists are advised to set off as early as possible to avoid congestion.

The worst traffic may be on routes leading to the coast and national parks.

Highways England said it will remove more than 1,100km (700 miles) of roadworks before the weekend. This will result in 97% of motorways and major A-roads in England being free of cones.

The Met Office’s deputy chief meteorologist Chris Bulmer said: “At the moment, Saturday looks to be one of the better days of the weekend with the promise of sunshine for most, whereas Sunday will be cloudier with outbreaks of rain moving in from the west.

“By Monday this rain and cloud should clear with a return to sunny spells and the odd shower in places, feeling cooler across the country in the fresh westerly breeze.”

Ben Aldous, the RAC’s patrol of the year, said: “When warmer weather coincides with traffic jams, it’s particularly important that every driver is confident their car can keep its cool to avoid a breakdown. So we strongly recommend lifting the bonnet to check the coolant is at the right level, and if it’s not, to either top up or visit a good local garage to get it checked out.”

Rail passengers also face disruption as Network Rail carries out engineering projects. Services between London Euston and Cumbria will be affected by significant work on the westcoast mainline throughout the weekend.

On the sections that remain open, fewer seats will be available. Passengers will experience longer journeys and may have to use rail replacement buses.

The disruption is due to the replacement of track sections and overhead electric cables, as well as maintaining bridges, tunnels and trackside equipment.

Martin Frobisher, the managing director of Network Rail’s London north-western route, said: “We recognise there is never an ideal time to shut the railway for our must-do work.

“Bank holidays are the least disruptive time to do it, when fewer passengers use the railway compared to the working week. That way we can do the maximum amount of work while impacting the fewest people.

“Sometimes a closure is the only way we can carry out major work like replacing track or improvements to overhead electric lines. Train companies and Network Rail have worked together to minimise disruption for customers by doing a lot of work over the recent bank holidays. The alternative would have been closing the line over multiple weekends throughout the summer.”

The west coast mainline is Europe’s busiest mixed-use train line, being shared by passenger and freight trains. It connects London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, and is used by millions of passengers every year.

Other bank holiday engineering work includes track replacement between Farringdon and West Hampstead in London, causing Thameslink services to be diverted.

Buses will replace trains between Wickford and Southend Victoria in Essex, due to an overhead wiring upgrade.

[“source=theguardian”]