Millions of travelers face motorway jams, rail delays and airport queues over ‘busier than usual’ Easter

Travelers across the country can expect congested roads, long queues at airports and disruption to trains after warnings by motoring organizations that Easter weekend will be “busier than usual”.

Large traffic jams were present on the M20 in Dover due to P&O Dover-Calais services still being suspended, with some travelers complaining they missed their ferries after waiting for hours.

The firm temporarily suspended sailings last month after sacking 800 of its crew without notice. The firm had hoped to restart crossings ahead of the Easter weekend, but yesterday announced this would not be possible after the Maritime and Coastguard agency detained two of its ships over safety concerns.

Images showed huge lines of cars on the M20 in Kent stretching back for thousands.

DFDS, another ferry firm, advised customers on Friday morning to arrive at least two hours before their departure time, adding it is “expecting a busy day through the Port of Dover”.

It comes as an estimated 4.62 million car journeys were predicted to be made across the UK on Friday, with a further 23 million across the four-day weekend in what could be the busiest in years, according to officials.

Vehicles queue up at the entrance to the Port of Dover on Good Friday


Meanwhile, the car-buying company We Buy Any Car found that Britons will cumulatively spend some 111 million hours on the road this weekend and over £1.2bn in fuel to fill up their cars. Having conducted a survey of more than 2,000 drivers, it also estimated that each trip would include on average two traffic jams and 36 minutes of static traffic.

Edmund King, president of the AA motoring association, explained: “Hot weather, lack of trains and an increase in UK staycations means that the roads will be busier than usual this Easter with 27.6 million journeys.

“Jams are already present on the M20 due to Operation Stack and the M25 is suffering heavy congestion on the west side around Heathrow and the east near Dartford.”

He continued: “Holiday traffic to the southwest has led to jams on the M4 and M5 near Bristol.

“The backbone of Britain via the M1 and M6 is also suffering from heavy traffic and crashes with hotspots near Hemel Hempstead, Sandbach and Bamber Bridge.”

Passengers queue inside the departures area of ​​Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport on Friday


Delays on the M6 ​​came after a lorry overturned on the southbound carriageway near Liverpool this morning, closing the motorway between junctions 26 and 23. Motorists were subsequently warned to expect delays.

Congestion was also reported on the A303 in both directions near Stonehenge, as well as the M27 near Southampton and the A31 near Bournemouth.

Despite all this, roads were running “better than expected” on Friday, as temperatures soared to their highest of the year so far with recordings of 23C in London.

However, according to the RAC’s Rod Dennis: “While much of the country’s major roads appear to be running reasonably freely at the moment, Easter getaway traffic is starting to build in certain spots and that is likely to continue through the day.”

At airports, passengers were greeted with hour-long waits – or more. Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, received criticism from holidaymakers after they were made to wait for up to two hours in the aircraft before being allowed to disembark.

Cars make their way slowly along the A303 past Stonehenge in Wiltshire where congestion has been reported


People traveling from Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest airport, as well as Manchester and Birmingham, faced lengthy queues this morning as they attempted to make a getaway.

In departures at Manchester, which has for days seen long queues as people jet out on their Easter holidays, passengers faced hour-long waits to get through security. At Birmingham Airport, the wait was said to be around 90 minutes at peak time.

Airports and airlines are currently suffering from a shortage of staff due to Covid-related sickness and a rush in demand of international travel now that the UK’s coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

Customers have been warned as of late to arrive at an airport at least three hours before their flight to avoid delays. Stansted Airport went a step further on Friday, urging passengers to consider dropping off their luggage a day early to avoid getting stuck in queues for their flight.

The situation was much the same at Britain’s train stations, with rail passengers across England facing separate uncertainty due to 530 engineering works due to take place over the next four days.

Slow moving traffic on the M3 near Egham, Surrey, during the Easter getaway


Network Rail is undertaking a massive £83m repairs project this weekend to avoid disruption for weekday commuters, it said.

Trains running on the west coast main line, which links London to Scotland, will start and finish at Milton Keynes across the weekend.

Meanwhile, London Euston, which normally links London via the West Midlands and northwest England to Scotland, will be completely closed from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

The closures could cause particular chaos for fans of Liverpool FC and Manchester City – both based in the northwest – traveling to Wembley on Saturday for the FA Cup semi-final.

On Wednesday, Network Rail issued a reminder to both clubs’ fans not to attempt to travel by train to and from the match.

Any trains that do run will be busier than usual, and fans will need to use rail-replacement buses to travel from Merseyside and Manchester to Wembley, the company warned.

It also advised football fans to avoid using alternative rail routes, such as CrossCountry services or the Chiltern Main Line, “because they too will already be busy because of the engineering work”.

With the majority of Britons – 87 per cent, according to WeBuyAnyCar – set to use their cars to avoid public transport, both the AA and RAC have taken the time to warn drivers to be as prepared as possible.

“Drivers are advised to check their cars before traveling and in particular tire pressures, oil, windscreen washer and fuel levels, as well as preparing for themselves with water and snacks,” Mr King, of the AA, said.

“Give yourselves extra time for the journey and build regular stops at least every two hours or so into your trip.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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