Drivers braced for busiest Easter on record with 21.5 million journeys planned

Good Friday is expected to be the busiest day on the roads during the bank holiday weekend. Credit: PA

Drivers are being warned to expect the busiest roads since records began this Easter, as millions look forward to a bank holiday weekend free of any Covid restrictions.

An estimated 21.5 million leisure trips will be made by car between Good Friday and Easter Monday, the RAC said, the highest number since the organisation began tracking motorists’ Easter plans in 2014.

With some 503 engineering projects taking place across the rail network over the weekend, leading to the cancellation of numerous trains and the FA Cup semi-final also taking place, even more cars will be taking to the roads.

It will also be the most expensive Easter on record when it comes to fuel prices - latest Government figures show the average cost of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts on April 4 was 161.9p, with diesel at 176.0p.

Good Friday is expected to be the busiest day on the roads this weekend, but there are some hotspots that are expected to be even busier than others, traffic information supplier Inrix said.

These include:

  • The M6 north between Junction 26 (Orrell Interchange, Greater Manchester) and Junction 36 (the Lake District).

  • The M25 clockwise from Junction 8 (Reigate Hill Interchange, Surrey) to Junction 16 (Denham Interchange, Buckinghamshire).

  • The A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

For expert analysis and insight on the biggest stories listen to our podcast to find out What You Need To Know

Drivers wanting to avoid as much congestion as possible are urged to set off before 9am or delay their journeys until after 7.30pm.

RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “After two years of relatively quiet Easter bank holidays on the roads, our research suggests a return to traffic levels that are much more typical of this time of year.

“It’s very possible this weekend could turn out to be one of the busiest for leisure journeys for many years", he said, adding traffic volumes could be even higher in the event of spring sunshine.

“Add in the impact of disruption on the rail network and one of the biggest fixtures of the sporting calendar taking place this weekend, and you have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads."

Mr Dennis urged drivers to make sure vehicles are prepared for getaway trips by checking their cars' oil and coolant levels, as well as tyre pressure and tread depth.

“This is even more important for anyone travelling longer distances than they have for several months,” he said.

Disruption is also expected across other modes of transport over the Easter weekend.

Several airlines and airports are struggling to cope with staff sickness and shortages, with thousands of flights cancelled by easyJet and British Airways in recent weeks.

Manchester Airport is warning departing passengers to expect delays of up to 90 minutes.

Rail passengers are being warned of delays as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83 million.

The West Coast Main Line will be closed between London Euston and Milton Keynes between Good Friday and Easter Monday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.

This will affect football supporters as Liverpool and Manchester City meet in an FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley on Saturday.

Large traffic queues are likely to continue on roads in Kent due to a shortage of cross-Channel sailings caused by the suspension of operations by

P&O Ferries after it sacked nearly 800 workers.

The company hopes to resume services this week pending regulatory approval.