Bank Holiday travellers face jams and disruption

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The Independent Online

People travelling across the country over the Bank Holiday weekend face traffic jams and severe disruption if they use trains because of engineering work, rail and motoring bodies warned today.

Network Rail is carrying out engineering works across Britain to upgrade train lines, affecting services from London to Wales and Scotland.

Meanwhile the RAC said around 11 million people would hit the roads, with traffic expected to start building up on major routes later today.

"Our engineers will be working day and night across the country over the two bank holiday weekends this May," said Iain Coucher, Network Rail's chief executive.

"Fewer people travel at bank holidays, so these weekends are the least disruptive time to improve the railway. However, Network Rail understands this work can impact on people's journeys and does everything it can to minimise this."

Bus replacement services will operate instead of trains on many lines. But consumer watchdog Passenger Focus argued that train companies should only use buses as a last resort and should also ensure people were not charged more for longer journeys.

"Passengers understand that engineering works need to happen to ensure a reliable and safe railway and it makes sense for these works to happen when fewer people are travelling," said Ashwin Kumar, Passenger Focus director.

"However, passengers would rather spend up to an hour extra on the train than change to a bus replacement service."

Kumar said the quickest way for passengers to get from Manchester to London this weekend was to travel via Leicester or Doncaster.

"Yet passengers have to buy two tickets for this journey, costing them more. This is unacceptable," he said.

The RAC said it expected the heaviest traffic to be in central and southern England, while routes into Wales and to the Lake District and Blackpool were also likely to be busy.

In addition, only four Tube services will be running as normal in London, with no trains at all on the Victoria and Waterloo & City lines.