With more than 14 million bank holiday getaway journeys by car expected to take place this weekend, motorists are being warned over long delays on major routes.
The most congested motorway stretches on Friday are likely to include the M1 northbound between junctions 12 and 16, the M25 clockwise between junctions four and one, and the M4 eastbound from junctions 29 to 24, transport analysis company Inrix said.
The Royal Automobile Club has suggested that about 14.4 million leisure trips by car are planned for between Friday and Monday, which is the last bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland until Christmas Day.
This is 1.8 million more trips than during last year’s summer bank holiday weekend.
The RAC said fuel prices are not as high as the record levels seen a year ago, but are still more expensive than previous years.
Pressure on the roads will be increased further on Saturday when train services will be disrupted due to thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at 14 train operators striking in their long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
Inrix advised drivers to avoid major roads between 10am and 7pm on Friday, between 10am and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, and between 10am and 4pm on Monday.
“With fuel prices much lower than last summer’s record highs, it’s clear from our research that many more drivers are planning to make the most of what the UK has to offer over the last bank holiday of the summer," RAC spokesman Simon Williams said.
“And if the weather is kind, even more people may decide to take trips, swelling numbers on the road further still and possibly adding to the inevitable delays.
“Those looking to have uninterrupted journeys should aim to travel very early to beat the jams, or if that’s not possible, much later in the day if they’re planning to be travelling on Friday.
“With breakdown numbers already well exceeding previous years, we’re urging drivers to do all they can to avoid finding themselves broken down at the side of the road by carrying out a few essential vehicle checks before setting off.”
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“We expect this bank holiday weekend to be very busy on major roads, with Friday and Saturday seeing the longest delays compared to normal," Inrix analyst Bob Pishue said.
“While the most significant delays over the three days are going to be on the M25 and M1, routes to the West will inevitably be badly affected too.”
In addition to disruption from the latest RMT strike on Saturday, train services will be affected by Network Rail carrying out about 500 projects across Britain’s railways over the long weekend.
The busiest station to be affected is London Euston, where services will be limited from 8pm on Saturday until Tuesday due to track renewals and signalling upgrades.
No trains will serve London Charing Cross or Waterloo East on Saturday or Sunday, while buses and coaches will replace trains on the East Coast Main Line between Grantham, Royston and Potters Bar-Hertford North from late Saturday until the early hours of Monday.
“As always, we’ve carefully planned our engineering work to ensure the vast majority of the railway will be open for business as usual this bank holiday," said Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s system operations director.
"So passengers can rely on the railway to get them where they need to be as they make the most of the long weekend.
“Disruptions to journeys on some routes is unavoidable when carrying out certain pieces of work, however, so please make sure to check with National Rail Enquiries or your train operator before you travel.”