Motoring organisations are warning travellers they could face bumper-to-bumper misery as more families than usual take to the roads due to rail disruption.
More than five million cars could gum up the highways network in what is predicted to be the busiest Good Friday for traffic in years.
“We haven’t seen such a big Good Friday travel day for quite a few years,” said Simon Williams of the RAC.
“Some years Maundy Thursday before the Easter weekend can be exceptionally busy. But this year Good Friday is the day everyone seems to be planning to head off, which is why we are warning people to expect it to be a long, mad, bad Friday on the roads.”
To help keep traffic moving Highways England has promised to lift or complete 450 miles of major roadworks over the Easter weekend. Amongst those are an 11-mile stretch of the M6 between Preston and Lancaster where road marking work is being suspended.
Drivers are being warned that the M55 between Preston and Blackpool, where road works are also being lifted, could be one of the UK’s worst traffic hotspots as thousands flock to the Fylde Coast over the first big getaway weekend of the year.
“The usual main road arteries will inevitably suffer the consequences of so many people trying to get away for the weekend by car,” added Simon Williams. “The advice has to be the head off as early as possible to beat other travellers and to expect heavy traffic and jams on major routes.”
On the trains Network Rail say 95 per cent of services will operate as normal. But that still means 450 projects to upgrade the network – costing £60m – will be carried out over the four-day break, one of them affecting the West Coast mainline at Stafford. Travellers have been advised to check their journeys for alterations or cancellations.
Network Rail is billing the likely disruption as “the biggest ever Easter investment programme.” But travel experts are predicting severe disruption as eight million passengers try to reach their destination, some journeys needing replacement buses and taking up to three times longer.
If all that wasn’t enough, Easter travellers are facing a gloomy weather forecast across the UK over the holiday weekend.
The Met Office predicts Good Friday will be the best day, with sunny spells. But clouyd and rain are expected on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with temperatures struggling to reach double figures.