Motorists are being warned to expect the busiest Easter ever as millions of Brits prepare to take to the streets this weekend.
An estimated 21.5 million holiday trips are made by car between Good Friday and Easter Monday, says the RAC.
That’s the highest number since the organization began tracking motorists’ Easter plans in 2014.
Good Friday is expected to be the busiest day as people look forward to making plans free of any COVID restrictions for the first time in three years.
It will also be the costliest Easter ever for fuel prices, as the latest Government figures show that the average price of a liter of petrol was 161.9p on April 4, compared to 176p for diesel.
There are also warnings of continued disruption at airports caused by COVID-related staff shortages and on trains thanks to engineering work.
Where will traffic be particularly heavy?
According to traffic information provider Inrix, these are some likely congestion hotspots:
• M6 north between J26 (Orrell Interchange, Greater Manchester) and J36 (Lake District)
• M25 clockwise from J8 (Reigate Hill Interchange, Surrey) to J16 (Denham Interchange, Buckinghamshire)
• A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire
Major congestion is expected to continue on Kent’s roadsthanks to a lack of crossings across the English Channel caused by the cessation of operations by P&O Ferries after laying off almost 800 workers.
The company hopes to resume services this week, subject to regulatory approval.
Drivers are advised to leave before 9:00 a.m. to avoid queues, or wait until after 7:30 p.m. to exit.
RAC Traffic Spokesman Rod Dennis said: “After two years of relatively quiet Easter holidays on the roads, our research points to a return to much more typical traffic levels for this time of year.
“It’s very possible this weekend will turn out to be one of the busiest for leisure travel in many years.
“Add in the impact of the disruptions on the rail network and one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar taking place this weekend and you have all the ingredients needed for trouble on the roads.
“Traffic levels will likely be even higher when warm spring sunshine arrives.”
Speaking of the weather, what’s it like?
After a cold spell for many, the Met Office says temperatures could rise in the coming days and could reach a positively balmy 20C (68F) by Thursday in southern England.
The Easter weekend itself is expected to remain dry with light winds but cloudier conditions are expected.
The outlook is better in the south-east, which should remain calm, while the north-west should brace for some strong winds and rain.
What about traveling by plane or train?
It’s been a tough few days for some of the UK’s busiest airportsas rising COVID cases forced flight delays and cancellations for British Airways and easyJet.
Disruptions are likely to continue as Manchester Airport warns departing passengers to expect delays of up to 90 minutes this weekend.
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As for the trains, passengers are advised to check before travel whether their plans are affected by any of Network Rail’s 530 engineering projects.
The West Coast Main Line will be closed between London Euston and Milton Keynes Friday to Monday as upgrades are carried out on the existing route, with work also underway on HS2.
This will impact all Liverpool and Manchester City fans traveling to the capital for their teams’ FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley on Saturday.