Increased security checks 'could delay Easter travel'

Queues of passengers at UK border Image copyright PA

Travellers on Easter getaways have been warned of possible delays because of increased security checks at transport hubs after the bombings in Brussels.

Police patrols at airports and railway stations and enhanced border checks have been in place since jihadists struck the Belgian capital on Tuesday.

Two million Britons are expected to go abroad over the four-day weekend.

The government said there may be "some limited delays" and people should check travel advice before setting off.

Travel organisation Abta also urged holiday-makers to allow "adequate time" for extra security checks.

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Eurostar passengers have been told to allow one hour to check in because of "enhanced security checks". The cross-Channel operator is expecting 22,000 people to use its trains to travel out of the UK on Good Friday.

London's airports will be busy with more than 950,000 passengers set to depart from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.

Meanwhile an estimated six million Britons are expected to make trips within the UK, with the RAC warning that the most congested stretches of road are likely to include the M5 south from Almondsbury towards Exeter, the M6 north from the West Midlands towards Lancashire and all sections of the M25.

The motoring group warned drivers to expect "heavy traffic and jams on major routes".

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Rail passengers have been advised to check for alterations to their journey because a number of lines will be suspended as Network Rail carries out more than 450 individual improvement projects.

  • There will be no Southern or Gatwick Express services from London Victoria because of major work in Battersea, south London. Southern services to the airport will be available from London Bridge, and Thameslink trains will run from London Blackfriars
  • The West Coast Main Line will be closed around Stafford, meaning many services will be diverted via Stoke with increased journey times
  • On the East Coast, one of the two lines south of Peterborough will be closed - resulting in changes to services on Saturday and Sunday
  • Heathrow Express trains will depart only every 30 minutes, because of Crossrail works

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said he was "acutely conscious" that many people wanted to use the railway over Easter, but it was a good time to carry out work on the network because there would be fewer passengers than normal over the four-day period.

Forecasters predict changeable weather over the weekend. Good Friday is expected to be mainly dry across the UK but a band of heavy rain and strong winds is expected to move from west to east across the country on Saturday with the chance of some snow over high ground in Scotland.

The Met Office said latest indications were that the strongest gusts, up to 60mph in exposed areas, were more likely across south Wales and southern and eastern parts of England, with north Wales and northern England less likely to be affected.

It said those travelling should "be aware of the possibility of localised low levels of disruption to Easter travel plans and other holiday activities".

For those looking for a warmer holiday, Spain will be the most popular destination for an Easter break, with the Canary Islands in particular seeing large numbers of British holidaymakers, Abta said.

Holidays in Orlando, Dubai, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are also in demand.

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