Easter travel woe on the horizon with predictions of a 'hectic' holiday getaway

An estimated 16 million people are expected to take to the roads for the first bank holiday of 2015, with the risk of jams on major routes

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The Independent Online

Families could be hit by travel chaos over Easter, with jams likely on major routes and the closure of multiple lines on the rail network.

An estimated 16 million people will take to the roads over the bank holiday weekend, with traffic volumes expected to peak on Easter Sunday, making for a “hectic” few days of travelling, according to the RAC.

The Highway Agency is removing more than 550 miles of roadworks by next Thursday in a bid to quell travel chaos.

But it confirmed to The Times last week that 55 sets of roadworks would be in place over the long weekend. Parts of the M1, M3, M4 and M6 are likely to be hit by lane closures or speed restrictions.

Other travel hotspots, including the M25 and the A64, have been flagged.

"This Easter is set to be a hectic one with 16 million of us getting behind the wheel for an Easter break, but at least we will benefit from the longer days and lighter evenings to complete our journeys,” said RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams.

“Motorists will welcome the announcement that hundreds of mikes of works are being lifted ready for the traditional Easter bank holiday getaway, but they won’t be able to escape them entirely with roadworks and temporary speed restrictions remaining in force in some locations."

He advised motorists to start longer journeys earlier in the day and to check tyre tread, coolant, oil and screenwash level and to carry emergency motoring essentials such as a first aid kit, a reflective warning sign and a fully charged mobile phone.

Roadworks also mean that routes in and around the capital are expected to be busier than usual, and travel conditions are likely to worsen with the shutdown of parts of the rail network.

Highways Agency Director of Customer Operations Simon Sheldon-Wilson, said: “We’ve worked closely with other transport providers to ensure our network can cope with increased demand due to closures on the railways.”

“Of course, we still advise drivers to plan their journeys, check the latest traffic updates, and the weather forecast, before setting out.”

Highway Agency roadworks lifted and completed for Easter break

Work planned on the railways means lines out of Euston will be affected, with the line to Watford Junction shut for the four days of the bank holiday, and no Virgin or London Midland services operating. 

Some lines out of Charing Cross and Paddington stations, London Bridge station and Watford and Reading areas will be affected.

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for network rail, said:

“There is never a good time to carry out this type of work but we have liaised closely with the train operators to plan for it to take place at a quieter time on the railway.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused but the work is essential to improve the network and maintain reliable services on the West Coast main line.”

Terry Oliver, London Midland’s head of West Coast services, said that journeys will take much longer than normal, adding: “My advice to passengers would be to postpone travel to another date if possible.”