The AA has announced an amber traffic warning for the coming bank holiday weekend, telling travellers to expect major delays around the country.
The final bank holiday of the summer coincides with a busy weekend for festivals and sporting events, leading the motoring organisation to warn of severe disruption around key venues as well as on traditionally busy routes to coastal and rural areas.
It has issued the amber warning because it estimates that 45% of UK drivers will take to the roads for a non-commuting journey between Friday and Monday, with around 15 million leisure trips planned for the weekend.
Daytrippers are expected to fight for room on the roads with families returning from summer holidays and festivalgoers attending events around the country.
Among major events taking place this weekend are Reading and Leeds Festivals, CarFest South in Hampshire, a full programme of football fixtures and an England v South Africa cricket Test match in Manchester.
Although this weekend isn’t a bank holiday in Scotland, it coincides with the closing weekend of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with many festivalgoers leaving the city expected to add to traffic levels.
Traffic trouble spots
Roads are expected to be exceptionally busy from Friday until Tuesday but the AA predicts that leisure traffic will reach its peak on Saturday between 10am and 4pm.
Festival closing times are expected to cause major jams around venues but the group has also identified a number of major routes where drivers should expected disruption and delays.
Predicted traffic hotspots include the M4/M5 interchange near Bristol; the M1 between the M25 and Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire; the M6/M42 interchange in Birmingham; and the M62 between Liverpool and Manchester.
AA patrol of the year Sean Sidley said: “With events and festivals fully back to normal, localised congestion will peak at closing time around major venues, but the rest of the UK could see peak journeys throughout Saturday.
“Traffic is likely to build again from Monday afternoon and into Tuesday, so allow plenty of time if you’re travelling then.
“Routes to and from coastal resorts and beauty spots will be among the busiest, so drivers should plan ahead for the journey and check your car before you go.”
As well as holiday-related problems on the roads rail passengers face further disruption on some key routes due to engineering work.
Network Rail said upgrades worth £90 million will be carried out, but stressed that 95% of lines will remain open.
A reduced timetable will be in place between Northampton/Milton Keynes and London Euston due to HS2 work between Saturday and Monday.
Projects to rebuild junctions mean there will be no trains to London’s Charing Cross or Cannon Street stations on Saturday or Sunday, with a limited service from Hastings and Tonbridge to London Bridge on both days.
London Bridge and Cannon Street will fully reopen on Bank Holiday Monday, while Charing Cross will remain closed until the following day.
Services between London Waterloo and Reading will be amended and diverted during the three-day weekend because of signalling work.
No Great Northern or Thameslink trains will run between Finsbury Park and Stevenage via Welwyn Garden City on Sunday, and Grand Central trains will be diverted with extended journey times.
The disruption will be a further blow to passengers who have been repeatedly affected by rail strikes in recent weeks.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “I’m pleased to say the vast majority of the railway will be open for business as usual this bank holiday, so passengers can rely on us to get them where they need to go as they make the most of their summers.
“Our teams will be delivering some upgrade works to improve future journeys for passengers, so we’re asking people to check before they travel and make sure their route isn’t affected.”