Bank Holiday travellers face hold-ups as thousands head for cup final in Cardiff

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The Independent Online

Bank holiday travellers making their way west this morning will face considerable delays and congestion as they jockey for position with thousands of football fans making their way to Cardiff for the FA Cup Final.

Bank holiday travellers making their way west this morning will face considerable delays and congestion as they jockey for position with thousands of football fans making their way to Cardiff for the FA Cup Final.

Many Arsenal and Chelsea supporters who made their journeys yesterday in the hope of avoiding trouble were frustrated by a power supply problem that held up South West Trains services.

The rail operator has doubled the number of trains it normally runs between London and Cardiff today to take supporters to the final. Jams are expected on the M4, as well as on the M6 in the Midlands.

The FA Cup Final in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium is not the only big sporting event in Wales and the west during the weekend.

More than 250,000 visitors are expected to attend the Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire and about 45,000 music fans are likely to visit the Essential Festival, a three-day music event in Bristol.

The Arsenal and Chelsea teams have chartered British Airways aircraft and 300 Arsenal supporters have chartered a Boeing 747 jumbo jet to get to the match.

Fans travelling by car and by train were warned to expect long delays. In an added complication, Railtrack has closed Paddington station in west London on Sunday for vital engineering work. Fans returning to London will find their trains will terminate at Ealing Broadway.

The Paddington closure will mean the cancellation of all services on the Heathrow Express between Paddington and Heathrow on Sunday.

Further Railtrack work in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, will mean no Stansted Express trains will run between Liverpool Street station in London and Stansted airport in Essex on Sunday.

An AA spokesman said: "With rail engineering work affecting London, Reading, Newbury, and parts of the West Country, many people will be seeking alternative transport for their Bank Holiday getaway.

"People feel let down by the public transport network. It's a shame that engineering work on the railway is happening the same time as major sporting leisure events along the M4 corridor."

The spokesman added that motorists should car share and use park and ride systems if possible.

"We would also remind fans travelling to Cardiff to stay off the alcohol if they are driving back to London after the match," he said.

"It's tempting for fans to toast their team's success or to drown their sorrows if they lose, but motorists need to save their celebration or commiserations until they are not getting behind the wheel."

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