Traffic jams, cancelled trains: it has to be Easter weekend

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Travellers face chaos over Easter as engineering work closes the country's two main north-south rail express routes and traffic clogs the roads.

Travellers face chaos over Easter as engineering work closes the country's two main north-south rail express routes and traffic clogs the roads.

Despite protests from train companies, the infrastructure company Network Rail and its contractors will be continuing their work on both the west coast main line between London and Glasgow and the east coast high-speed route between London and Edinburgh.

There will also be mayhem on Britain's roads tomorrow afternoon as the school term ends. The navigation-systems supplier Trafficmaster said that heavy traffic should be expected from lunchtime onwards.

On the railways, trains will be diverted on Saturday and Sunday between Preston and Carlisle on the western link, with trains moved on to slower lines or passengers put on buses. On the eastern line, engineering work will be carried out between York and Newcastle and passengers will be transferred to coaches.

Extensive work along parts of the express line between Reading and Taunton at the weekend means buses will be used, and a similar situation will face rail passengers seeking to travel between Birmingham and Leicester.

The picture is not much better on the roads. The main jams will probably be on the M25 western and northern sectors, especially the section through the roadworks between Junctions 12 and 15, where Heathrow airport traffic will add to jams. On the northern sector, traffic to and from the M11 for Stansted airport will add to the regular congestion.

On the M1 throughout both the Home Counties and the east Midlands, the regular weekend northbound delay is likely to be heavier than usual. The same is expected on the M4 between London and Bristol and on the M4-M5 interchange.

Trafficmaster warns of problems on the M6, especially between Junction 11A - the northern end of the toll road - and the Merseyside-Lancashire region. If the weather is fine, traffic could also be heavy further north on the M6 towards Blackpool and the Lake District.

Tomorrow much of the UK is forecast to experience a fair amount of cloud with showers giving way to longer spells of rain. However the PA WeatherCentre says that there will be some brighter interludes in places and that Friday will be a drier and brighter day with some sunny spells developing in most areas.

If the weather turns out to be good tomorrow, there is also likely to be heavy traffic along the M5 from the West Midlands and the Almondsbury interchange into the West Country. The North Wales coastal route, the A55, is also likely to be busy. Further north, Trafficmaster says heavy traffic can be expected both ways along the M62 across the Pennines.

In the event of fine weather, there is likely to be heavy traffic into North Yorkshire, which could be adversely affected by the roadworks around the A1-M62 interchange at Ferrybridge.

Around 1.5 million people will be using London's main airports between tomorrow and Easter Monday, but a planned strike by baggage handlers has been called off.

In Scotland, heavy traffic can be expected both ways through Glasgow on the M8, towards the Ayrshire coastal resorts on the M77/A77 and into the Highlands on the A9/A82. Some people may defer their departure for an Easter break until Good Friday and Easter Saturday, although traffic is expected to be lighter.

Friday, however, often sees heavy traffic around shopping centres. Sporting events will probably attract heavier crowds.