England

August bank holiday 2019: Where to avoid on roads and rail

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Media captionHow do you avoid holiday traffic jams?

Drivers are being warned of hour-long delays on some roads as traffic builds over the August bank holiday weekend.

Rush-hour motorists in much of the UK awoke to early morning fog, although conditions were expected to improve.

Congestion is expected to build between 11:00 BST and 18:30 as millions take to the roads.

Rail travellers have also been warned to expect delays, with the closure of London King's Cross and reduced services on parts of the rail network.

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Media captionKing's Cross station closed over bank holiday

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) issued passengers with a "do not travel warning" for the route between London and Scotland, with the line between the capital and Peterborough closed completely for the first time in 20 years on Saturday and Sunday.

It means potential disruption for people heading to events like the Ashes at Headingley, the Leeds Festival and the Ebor Festival in York.

The RAC said the best time to travel on Friday would be after 21:00 BST. Its survey of 1,900 drivers suggested about 16.5 million journeys would be made for holidays and day trips between Friday and Monday.

Traffic on urban motorway in Birmingham
Getty Images
Worst times to travel

23 - 26 August

  • 11:00 - 18:30 Friday

  • 10:30 - 14:00 Saturday

  • 12:30 - 14:00 Sunday

  • 12:00 - 14:30 Monday

Source: RAC/Inrix (times in BST)

A survey by tourism agency VisitEngland suggested that 8.6 million Britons were planning an overnight trip in the UK this weekend.

This is up from 7.3 million for the August bank holiday in 2018 and the most since the research began in 2012.

Among the popular events on this weekend are Notting Hill Carnival in west London; Edinburgh Fringe festival; Reading and Leeds Festivals; Manchester Pride and Creamfields, near Warrington in Cheshire.

Where will it be busiest?

All of the worst-affected routes over the bank holiday are in England, according to traffic data company Inrix. There is no bank holiday this weekend in Scotland.

Inrix said drivers should prepare for delays of about 55 minutes on Friday afternoon on the M25 anticlockwise between J4 at Bromley and J1 Swanscombe.

The M6 north between Knutsford and Ashton-in-Makerfield is expected to see similar delays.

Inrix said the section between Warrington and Wigan, would be likely to have 21-minute delays on Saturday afternoon, while the M25 between Gatwick Airport and the M40 could have a 26-minute delay on Sunday afternoon.

On Monday the M6 southbound between Wigan and Stafford could have delays of an hour, with traffic particularly bad at about 14:15.

Delay forecasts are based on previous summer getaways as well as planned road closures and events taking place over the weekend.

Will there be roadworks?

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Image caption Most roadworks will have been lifted ahead of the bank holiday

Highways England said most work would have been completed or lifted with 97% of motorways "free from roadworks".

But it said more than 50 sets of roadworks would stay in place.

A spokeswoman said: "To help people have smoother journeys we have removed as many roadworks as possible, leaving only essential work in place. However, it is not possible to remove all roadworks due to safety reasons."

The longest sets of roadworks staying in place between Friday and Monday include:

  • M4 J7 to J12 (near Wokingham and Reading) - 32 miles
  • M6 J13 to J15 (near Stafford) - 18 miles
  • M20 J2 to J7 (near Maidstone) - 16 miles
  • M27 J4 to J11 (near Southampton) - 15 miles
  • M1 J13 to J15 (near Milton Keynes) - 15 miles
  • M6 J2 to J4 (near Birmingham - 14 miles

Drivers heading towards Wales will also find roadworks on the M48 westbound entry slip at J1, near Aust and Chepstow.

More information on roadworks can be found at the Highways England website. Roadworks for other nations are available from Traffic Wales, Traffic Scotland and Trafficwatch Northern Ireland.

Is my train running?

Image copyright BBC/Jules Bellerby

Network Rail is carrying out 448 engineering projects over the weekend, and King's Cross station in London will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

No trains will run in either direction between the station and Peterborough or Cambridge.

A reduced timetable will be used on the West Coast Main Line because of engineering work near Milton Keynes, with two out of four lines closed.

Virgin Trains services will be down to one per hour on most routes, and services between London Euston and Holyhead will run between Crewe and Holyhead only.

On Sunday there will be two trains per hour between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe and Wilmslow.

East Midlands Railway services will be replaced by buses between Nottingham and Lincoln and also between Newark North Gate and Lincoln on Saturday and Sunday.

Most LNER trains will be diverted between Doncaster and Peterborough. Replacement buses will run between Retford and Peterborough via Newark and Grantham.

All Grand Central services on Saturday and Sunday will be cancelled and Hull Trains services will be diverted to run to and from London St Pancras International.

More details can be seen on the National Rail Enquiries website.

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