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16m cars set for Easter getaway

Published 01/04/2015

The RAC has forecast that four million motorists will be travelling on Good Friday and 4.5 million on Easter Sunday
The RAC has forecast that four million motorists will be travelling on Good Friday and 4.5 million on Easter Sunday

Roads will be jammed with around 16 million cars over Easter while those taking the train face disruption due to major engineering works.

For travellers heading abroad, some of the most popular destinations are Barcelona, Malaga in southern Spain and Dublin.

For those staying at home, the weather on Good Friday is expected to be showery in places, although Easter Saturday promises to be sunny over much of Britain.

The RAC has forecast that four million motorists will be travelling on Good Friday and around 4.5 million on Easter Sunday.

The AA said tomorrow is likely to be the busiest day on the roads.

According to Trafficmaster, the top five busiest stretches of road are likely to be:

:: A303 westbound through Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset

:: M1 from junction 6A (M25 interchange) to junction 13 east of Milton Keynes, and from junction 23A in Leicestershire to junction 32 south of Rotherham

:: M5 from junction 15 north of Bristol towards junction 31 (Exeter)

:: M6 through the West Midlands (from junction 4A) and northwards towards Lancashire (junction 21A)

:: M25 all sections, especially both ways around junctions 14-17 around Heathrow Airport

Highways England, formerly the Highways Agency, said more than 550 miles of roadworks will be lifted over Easter on England's motorways and major A roads.

The agency aims to complete or lift 209 sets of roadworks by tomorrow, with restrictions lifted from 6am until the end of Easter Monday.

For safety reasons lane restrictions or temporary speed limits will remain at 69 locations.

As is usual during bank holiday periods, there is a large programme of engineering work on the railways with a number of major routes affected.

One of the most disrupted routes is the London to Scotland West Coast main line.

Major work at Watford means there will be no Virgin or London Midland trains in or out of London's Euston station between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Virgin trains will run no further south than Milton Keynes, Rugby or Northampton while there will be no direct London Midland services between Euston and Hemel Hempstead.

There will be improvement work on the West Coast line between Crewe and Warrington and between Carlisle and Glasgow which will severely restrict Virgin services to northern England and Scotland.

Virgin is "strongly recommending" that passengers do not travel between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Network Rail (NR) route managing director Martin Frobisher said of the Watford project: "There is never a good time to carry out this type of work but we have liaised closely with the train operators to plan for it to take place at a quieter time on the railway."

Another area in which work is going on over Easter is between Manchester and Bolton, via Farnworth. Manchester Victoria station will be closed from Good Friday to the end of Easter Monday.

The Easter holiday will also see no Southeastern services to or from the London stations of Charing Cross, Waterloo East or Cannon Street.

Other disrupted areas due to engineering work include parts of Kent, lines running through Reading and some services from Paddington.

The pressure will be on NR to ensure its big engineering programme finishes on time. Last Christmas there was travel chaos in north London after work at King's Cross and at Paddington stations overran.

Gatwick Airport is handling around 480,000 passengers between Good Friday and Easter Monday - around 11% up on last Easter.

The West Sussex airport said that for the Easter school holiday period - March 27 to April 13 - it would be handling more than two million p assengers - 4.7% more than last Easter.

Once Easter is over, there could be serious delays at ports when strict new passport exit checks are introduced on April 8.

Ferry companies have warned of long delays once the checking of passports for those leaving the country.

The companies have warned of hold-ups on roads to Dover with "coach-loads of grannies" having to have their passports checked.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire has advised travellers to set off in good time.

But he said he did not recognise the "extreme" stories about how the changes could impact travellers and insisted there were contingency plans ready.

Holiday organisation Abta said around 1.8 million Britons are set to head overseas over the Easter weekend, with Spain and its islands the most popular spots.

Florida is the favourite long-haul destination, while city-break tourists are heading for Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome, Barcelona and New York.

Among the ski resorts for late-season winter sports fans are Zermatt in Switzerland, Val d'Isere and Tignes in France, Obergurgl in Austria, and Cervinia in Italy.

Nearly 400,000 are leaving from Heathrow airport over the weekend, 153,000 from Stansted, 125,000 from Manchester, 70,000 from Luton, 64,000 from Edinburgh, and 51,000 from Birmingham.

Around 85,000 will leave with Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "Holidaymakers are flocking to the eurozone to take advantage of the cheaper euro, while UK breaks have also proved popular, with low fuel prices boosting travel around the country."

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