People have been advised to plan ahead before traveling this weekend amid concerns of Easter getaway chaos affecting traffic, flights, trains, and ferries.
The Department for Transport has said it is working to minimize disruption, but has told those expecting to travel to allow extra time for their journeys.
Holidaymakers have already faced flight cancellations, queues for cross-Channel ferry services and long queues of traffic over the last couple of weeks.
Here’s everything you need to know before setting off this weekend.
Some 27.6 million car journeys are expected to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend, according to the AA.
Motorists were advised to travel on Thursday if possible, but Saturday’s the next best bet for avoiding long queues.
The busiest day on UK roads is predicted to be Good Friday.
Kent is expected to be one of the worst affected areas, as Operation Brock continues to be in place along a stretch of the M20 and issues at the Port of Dover due to a shortage of cross-Channel sailings remain a problem.
The operation, which was initially created to help with post-Brexit queues, involves using a moveable barrier to create a contraflow system enabling lorries to queue and other traffic to keep moving in both directions.
Other likely congestion hotspots
- The M6 north between Junction 26 (Orrell Interchange, Greater Manchester) and Junction 36 (the Lake District)
- The M25 clockwise from Junction 8 (Reigate Hill Interchange, Surrey) to Junction 16 (Denham Interchange, Buckinghamshire
- The A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire
Drivers wanting to avoid as much congestion as possible are urged to set off before 9am or delay their journeys until after 7.30pm.
AA has also estimated that, with higher fuel prices, a 500-mile round trip will see drivers paying £20 more at the pumps than they did last Easter.
Transport minister Robert Courts said his department is “working closely with operators to minimize disruption” during the break, but advised people to “plan ahead and check for updates from operators”.
Ferry crossings continue to be an issue over the weekend, with Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries still suspended after it sacked nearly 800 seafarers without notice on 17 March.
This means there will be a shortage of capacity along the key route.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said there were “additional deficiencies” found during a reinspection on Wednesday of the Pride of Kent, while the Spirit of Britain vessel was detained on Tuesday after an inspection found “a number of deficiencies”.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “We apologise unreservedly to all customers whose scheduled journeys with us between Dover and Calais have been canceled whilst we are unable to sail.”
It added that alternative arrangements can be made for customers, including transferring them on to the Hull-Europoort service to Rotterdam or booking them on to services with Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth and Caen.
It said this would come at no extra cost for customers, with mileage expenses funded and a 25% discount on the original fee.
DFDS has said it has no availability for P&O customers over the Easter bank holiday.
“Please do not proceed to port without a confirmed reservation, contact P&O Ferries for alternative travel arrangements,” it urged travellers.
In recent days, flight cancellations and long queues at UK airports have been blamed on difficulties recruiting new staff, the time it takes for their security checks to be processed, and increased levels of COVID-related sickness.
Aviation data firm Cirium said 9,212 flights with 1.6 million seats are scheduled to depart from UK airports between Good Friday and Easter Monday – 78% of the total for Easter 2019.
The busiest day will be Good Friday, when some 2,430 flights are due to depart.
On Thursday, dozens of British Airways and EasyJet flights to and from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.
Passengers and Birmingham and Manchester airports shared pictures on social media of lines stretching far away from check-in desks, and travel agency Tui apologizing for long delays.
People are advised to check their departure times, leave with plenty of time to spare at the airport, and check for regular updates.
Rail passengers have also been warned of delays as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83m.
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This includes the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for four days from Good Friday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.
Parts of the railway between Birmingham International station and Coventry will also be closed, as will lines around Crewe station.
Passengers were already facing long queues for services from London St Pancras to Europe on Thursday morning.