Bank holiday travellers hit by rail and road delays


Britons setting off on bank holiday getaways have had their journeys marred by traffic, train delays and rain. 

Congestion on several major routes has slowed drivers escaping to Wales, the West Country and the North as queues formed on key motorways.

Heavy traffic was reported on the M6 north of Birmingham, M4 in Wales and M5 in Somerset, with queues also slowing drivers on the M11, M25 and M27. The AA predicted that more than 13 million drivers would hit the roads this weekend.

Meanwhile, rail journeys were disrupted after members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at First Great Western (FGW) went on strike for the three-day weekend.

The action, prompted by a row over new trains, has disrupted FGW services from London to South Wales and the South West. 

A spokesman for FGW said the rail company were running 70% of services as normal, and hoped to keep services running at the same level for the rest of the weekend. 

Yet, the strike angered many passengers who took to Twitter complaining about the delays.

Steve Hill said the action was "very frustrating" in a message to the rail company. He wrote: "Picking a bank holiday weekend for a strike is just vindictive. Who actually wins? #Disgrace."

A spokesman for FGW said the RMT action had "unfairly disrupted our passengers". 

"The RMT says this is about protecting jobs, services and safety. But in truth they've had a series of concessions on the table for over a month that won't see a single member of train staff lose their jobs, means more services not less, and is based on a method of operating trains that has worked safely across the UK rail network for decades. So if those three issues are dealt with, you've got to ask what this is really about", FGW said in a statement. 

"It looks very likely that after this weekend the RMT will have once again unfairly disrupted our passengers, the economies of the communities we serve, and will have asked every one of their members to go without a week's worth of pay when they've already got what they asked for."

The strike came as FGW said it was "unrealistic" to expect customer service staff to ensure tickets were sold at the lowest price. The loophole, which means customers may be paying double the correct fare for their journey, is not thought to break the law. 

Rail improvement work is also taking place on the West Coast Main Line which will affect services from a number of key locations, including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Many passengers will be forced to make multiple changes, use replacement buses and suffer extended journey times.

Planned works by Southern mean trains will be disrupted from the south coast and Surrey in to London from today to Monday.

Central and south eastern parts of the country are expected to see outbursts of rain for the rest of today and possibly into Sunday and Monday. 

Marco Petagna, a forecaster for the Met Office, said thundery showers had the potential to cause localised flooding in the South East but said it would not be a total washout all across the country. 

Revellers attending the Notting Hill carnival have been warned to expect showers while rain is also expected to hit the Leeds Festival over the weekend.