Spring bank holiday getaway begins

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The spring bank holiday getaway began this morning, with travellers having to put up with the first bout of widespread unsettled weather for a while.









With the first of an estimated 15 million cars taking to the road, forecasters warned of cooler and showery weather, with possibly strong winds in Scotland and Northern Ireland on Sunday.



The weather was likely to put a dampener on the host of sporting events and music festivals taking place over what will be the last bank holiday for three months.



The biggest event is the Champions League football final at Wembley between Manchester United and Barcelona, a match that will bring travel congestion to north west London on Saturday evening.



Twickenham in the south-west of the capital will also be busy as the ground is staging the Aviva Premiership Rugby final on Saturday.



Motoring groups predicted that the traffic build-up would begin around lunchtime, with tomorrow also expected to be a busy day on the roads.



The AA said routes to south-west England and coastal resorts would be among the busiest.



The Highways Agency has suspended or completed 107 miles of roadworks on England's motorways and major A roads.



Restrictions were being lifted at 20 sites from 6am until midnight on Monday.



Among sites where roadworks would be staying in place for safety reasons were the M1 junction 2 to 4 just north of London where repairs are continuing following the under-viaduct fire which led to serious disruption last month.



Various M25 roadworks will also remain, as will a 3.5 mile stretch of the M4 near Newbury in Berkshire where moderate delays are expected.



Engineering work will affect a number of mainline train services over the weekend, but the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said 8% more trains would operate than during the spring bank holiday weekend last year.



Some of the planned Network Rail (NR) work on the West Coast Main Line will not be going ahead to keep Anglo-Scottish services running.



Atoc predicted that more than five million passengers would travel by train over the weekend.



Extra train services are being laid on to Southend-on-Sea in Essex for the annual airshow.



Officials at the Port of Dover in Kent said they expected 500,000 passengers and 110,000 cars to travel to the Continent during half-term week.



They said their busiest day will be this Saturday, when around 62,000 passengers and 13,000 cars will use the port, equating to 43 passengers a minute.



The Press Association's weather company MeteoGroup said there would be "variable cloud" today with rain and drizzle in places.



Tomorrow is likely to be rainy and drizzly as well, while there would be scattered showers on Sunday with strong winds in Scotland and Northern Ireland where the showers could be heavy in places.

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