Drivers are being warned to expect disruption and delays on the roads this Easter Monday as millions of people take day trips or head home after weekend getaways.
This Easter weekend is the first bank holiday of the year and the first since all Covid restrictions were lifted, bringing millions of extra motorists onto the roads as families make the most of the time off and good weather.
The RAC has predicted that people will take almost four million extra leisure journeys this Easter Monday, adding to regular commuter and freight traffic and raising the prospect of major delays on key routes.
Making matters worse are a series of planned railway works which have closed major routes and forced more travellers onto the roads.
Among the routes expected to see the worst traffic delays are the M25 clockwise from J8 to J16, the M6 southboutnd from J20 for the M56 to J16 Stoke-on-Trent and the M3 northbound from J14 for the M27 to J7 Basingstoke.
All three routes are expected to be at their busiest between early afternoon and early evening as holidaymakers head home, but other key routes are also expected to be busy throughout the day.
At lunchtime the AA’s live traffic monitoring system was showing some delays around major cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield as well as serious delays on stretches of the M4 through Wales, the M5 between Bristol and Exeter, the M20 south of Maidstone and M25 between Slough and Woking.
The cancellation of P&O Ferries from Dover to Calais has also seen heavy traffic on the approach to the port, with lorries stacked along stretches of motorway leading to the terminal.
Rail works around the country have seen passengers face diversions and delays and other bank holiday travellers have face “nightmare” conditions at railway stations, ferry ports and airports.
Network Rail has been carrying out 530 engineering projects, which have meant the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for four days since Good Friday. Parts of the railway between Birmingham International station and Coventry have also been closed, along with lines around Crewe station.
Monday morning has already brought “nightmare” queues for Eurostar customers at Gare Du Nord in Paris after a border control IT failure which meant passengers could not board trains.
Passengers told the PA news agency hundreds of people were waiting for several hours, while air travellers at Manchester and Gatwick airports have also complained of long queues caused by staff shortages.