Airport gridlock hinders getaway

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A BANK holiday weekend is inevitably plagued by travel problems but yesterday descended into utter chaos for thousands of holidaymakers after Heathrow airport ground to a halt because of a power cut and the main East Coast rail line was closed because of a fire.

Thousands of holidaymakers attempting to leave the country were stranded at the world's busiest airport when terminals three and four were hit by a power cut at 2.45pm. It prevented any planes from taking off and there was a gridlock on the tarmac as aircraft continued to land with little hope of leaving for hours.

GNER suspended all rail services between London and Edinburgh for several hoursafter 10,000 pallets caught fire near the track. The fire was so intense it melted high-tensile steel power cables and burnt through sleepers.

Vast quantities of traffic is expected on the country's main roads this weekend because of the array ofevents on offer. The Southend Air Show in Essex is expected to attract 750,000 people and the annual Fish Quay Festival in North Shields, Tyneside, 500,000 people.

England's crucial World Cup cricket clash against India at Edgbaston, Birmingham, the Volvo PGA Golf Championships at Wentworth, Surrey, the British Touring Car Championships at Oulton Park, Cheshire, and cycling's Prutour from Carlisle to Edinburgh, will also bring in the crowds.

Last night the worst-hit roads included the M5 near Bristol, where several minor accidents led to a 17-mile tailback, and the M1. The good news is that the weather will be warm and sunny for much of the country this weekend.