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1.6m Britons head abroad for Easter

Around 1.6 million Britons are heading abroad over Easter, with those staying at home facing packed roads, disrupted rail journeys and the threat of unsettled weather.

Popular foreign spots for those going overseas include Spain and its islands, Turkey, Tunisia and Florida, according to UK travel organisation Abta.

Top city destinations are Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York, while bookings for UK breaks are described by Abta as "healthy".

Over the Easter weekend, 370,000 passengers will leave from Heathrow airport, 200,000 from Gatwick, 120,000 from Stansted, 60,000 from Luton and 4,500 from Bournemouth.

In the north of England and the Midlands, 110,000 will leave from Manchester airport, 45,000 from Birmingham and 23,000 from East Midlands, while more than 100,000 will be leaving via the Scottish airports.

Thousands will also take ferry services to the continent, while Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar is expecting to carry more than 130,000 passengers over the holiday weekend - a 15% increase on numbers at Easter 2013.

While those heading for the sunshine abroad can expect high temperatures, those having a break in Britain are being warned by forecasters to expect isolated showers on Good Friday and Easter Saturday.

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are expected to bring unsettled weather in the South, with north east England and the Midlands getting the best of the sunshine, the Met Office said.

As is usual over bank holiday weekends, Network Rail is carrying out a large programme of engineering works which will see a number of key routes disrupted.

The extensive work will affect services to and from a number of major termini, including London's Charing Cross, London Bridge, Paddington and King's Cross stations.

Southampton Central and Sheffield are among other major stations where services will be affected over the weekend.

With Easter falling earlier last year and proving distinctly chilly, this Easter is expected to see a rise in the number of vehicles taking to the road.

Traffic information company Trafficmaster and the AA have forecast as many as 16 million cars will be on the move over the holiday, with drivers from Northern Ireland the most likely to get behind the wheel and Scots the least likely to do so.

Another traffic information company, Inrix, has forecast that the worst-affected congestion hotspots in south east and south west England will be twice as busy over Easter as during non-holiday periods.

The company said this Easter's busiest periods will be all day on Thursday, between 10am and 3pm on Good Friday and between 10am and 4pm on Easter Monday.

Inrix listed the sections of road likely to be the most congested over the holiday. These include the M4 between Hampshire and the West Country, the western section of the M25, the A303 in Wiltshire, the M55 between Preston and Blackpool, and the M4 be tween London and Reading in Berkshire.

The RAC said that as many as 18.6 million motorists could take to the roads over the holiday, with Good Friday set to be the busiest day.

It warned too that with the new school term starting next week, there could be a "manic Monday" on the roads.

Rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is estimating that around eight million journeys will be made by rail this Easter.

On the engineering work, the RDG said: "Britain has the fastest-growing, safest major railway in Europe. Work is planned carefully to deliver faster, more reliable journeys while ensuring that the vast majority of passengers will not be disrupted as we improve the railway."

RDG also said there would be 20% fewer bus-replacement services needed on the railways this weekend than for Easter last year.

Meanwhile, the public have classed David Cameron, Nick Clegg and "the in-laws" among their nightmare companions on a road trip, according to a survey by car parts company Halfords.

Top choice as a dream car companion was "my regular partner", while the top celebrities that people wanted on a trip were comedians David Walliams and Graham Norton. Presenter Jeremy Clarkson managed to make it into both the dream and the nightmare list.

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