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Patchy weather for Easter weekend

Large parts of the country had a grey, chilly day today which brought little cheer for the Easter holiday weekend.

The best of the sunshine was in the north and west but at least most areas were dry.

Claire Austin, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "There was some patchy rain and drizzle in north east Scotland but that has more or less died away.

"It's a dry day, with sunny spells developing, most of them in the north west. The south east has been chilly, with temperatures not rising much above seven or eight Celsius in some areas - they are a few degrees higher further north. Temperatures should rise gradually over the next few days, though it will be cold at night, and it should be mainly dry."

Around 16 million cars are expected to be on the roads over the Bank Holiday weekend but the Highways Agency said there were no significant build-ups of traffic today.

An RAC spokesman said: "Call outs for breakdowns are running at the numbers we would expect - there were 5,500 on Good Friday in England, Scotland and Wales, which is normal.

"The chilly weather may have kept some people off the roads today - maybe they have called off that trip to the coast to do some DIY instead."

There was a large programme of engineering works taking place on the railways.

The pressure is on Network Rail to make sure they finish on time, to avoid the travel chaos seen at Christmas when overrunning improvements led to major delays for passengers.

Virgin Trains has said it is "strongly recommending" that passengers do not travel over the weekend, while Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said people may want to "think twice" about their method of travel.

He told the Evening Standard: "i f you are travelling between Friday and Monday night please check your journey first, it may be that you'll think twice about how you travel.

"I'm sorry if it is more difficult - but my promise is that the work is essential and when it's done the benefits will be worthwhile."

Major work at Watford meant there would no Virgin or London Midland trains in or out of London's Euston station between yesterday and Easter Monday.

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

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

Work was also taking place between Manchester and Bolton, via Farnworth, and Manchester Victoria station was closed from yesterday to the end of Easter Monday.

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

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

Meanwhile an estimated 1.8 million Britons were expected to head overseas for the holiday.

Spain and its islands are the most popular spots for those spending Easter abroad. Florida is the favourite long-haul destination, while city-break tourists were 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 were 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 were leaving with Channel Tunnel high-speed train company Eurostar.

Meanwhile police appealed for witnesses and information following a fatal collision in Dagenham.

Police and London Ambulance Service were called to Ballards Road with the junction of Church Lane at 3.50pm yesterday, to reports of a collision between a KTM motorcycle and a Vauxhall Zafira.

The motorcyclist, a 22-year-old man, was taken to an east London hospital where he later died. A post-mortem examination and formal identification will be scheduled in due course.

A five-year-old boy in the rear passenger seat of the car suffered injuries. He was taken to an east London hospital where he remains in a serious condition.

Two further children, a 10-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy, who were also in the rear of the vehicle, suffered minor injuries.

The 38-year-old male driver of the car was not injured.

There have been no arrests.

Anyone with information was asked to call the Serious Collision Investigation Unit based at Chadwell Heath on 020 8597 4874 or the police non-emergency line on 101.


From Belfast Telegraph