20 million road trips expected in UK over bank holiday weekend

Updated: 

Motorists have been warned to expect heavy traffic over the bank holiday weekend with an estimated 20 million leisure trips being made on Britain's roads between Friday to Monday.

The RAC claimed a "far greater" number of cars will be on the highway this May Day weekend compared to 2015 because a number of people are making up for not going away at Easter as it was earlier than normal.

Research commissioned by the motoring organisation found that Saturday is expected to see 8.4 million leisure trips by car, with noon the most likely time for congestion.

This is compared to 5.4 million on Friday, 6.9 million on Sunday and 4.8 million on Monday.

The figures were based on a survey of 1,562 people who were asked on which dates they would use a car to travel on a major A road or motorway for a leisure trip.

The most likely locations where hold-ups could occur include the M5 from Bristol to Taunton, the A30 and A38 from Exeter to Cornwall, the A14 between the Midlands and Suffolk, and the M53 between Liverpool and Chester.

Simon Williams of the RAC said: "The number of people who plan to use their cars for leisure trips, whether that's visiting family and friends or enjoying a day out or some time away, is far greater this year than last.

"This level of recreational car journeys is the highest we have seen in recent times. We think it can only be a hangover effect from Easter falling in late March when perhaps people didn't drive as much as they would have had it been April when the weather would have been a little warmer."

He added that despite recent rises in the cost of fuel, the average price of petrol and diesel is still around 7p a litre cheaper than at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, those hoping to avoid the queues on the road by taking the train will find that a number of lines are disrupted due to engineering work.

Virgin Trains, Great Western Railway and TransPennine Express are among the operators affected.

Network Rail (NR), which manages Britain's rail track and major stations, claimed it will be "one of the least disruptive bank holidays for railway travel for many years".

It said £33 million of improvement work will be carried out over the weekend, when fewer than half the usual number of passengers are expected to travel.

Buses will replace trains between Glasgow Central and various parts of north-west England between Saturday and Monday due to work on the West Coast Main Line.

Signalling improvements on the northern part of the Midland Main Line mean major alterations to services, including replacement buses running between Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield on Sunday.

London Paddington will see reduced services over the weekend as Crossrail and electrification work continues.

No Gatwick Express services between the West Sussex airport and London Victoria will operate during the weekend. Fast, direct services will run to and from London Bridge instead.

More than 96% of the rail network will be unaffected by the engineering work, NR said.

The company's chief executive, Mark Carne, claimed this was "good news for passengers".

He said: "We're continuing with our huge investment programme and we have a lot of work to do this weekend, but we've planned it as far as possible to minimise disruption."

National Express said it is adding 8,000 extra seats to its services between Friday and Monday to cope with demand, which has been boosted by the engineering work on the railways.

The operator predicted that Friday will be its busiest day, with London being its most popular destination followed by Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.