Easter travel: What you need to know

Motorway traffic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thursday is expected to be the busiest day of the Easter getaway

About 11 million cars are expected to take to the roads during the Easter holiday weekend.

The AA has estimated about half of all drivers will be on the road as holidaymakers mix with school and commuter traffic.

Roadworks across 97% of the motorway and A-roads were due to be finished or lifted, but 57 sets will stay in place for safety reasons.

Engineering work will affect about 5% of rail routes over the next week.


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The £60m investment is being made because school holidays are traditionally quieter.

Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport is expected to see 850,000 people travel through it this weekend.

Some 200,000 more families than usual will use it over Easter.

Busiest roads

The AA said it expected Easter to be busier than last year, with 11 million vehicles on the road, after a survey of its members suggested 55% planned to go somewhere by car on Thursday, compared with 47% in 2015.

The number is expected to fall to 50% on Good Friday.

The average journey for anyone travelling for leisure is expected to be about 35 miles (56km), with roads through Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset expected to be among the busiest.

Traffic hotspots

Busiest roads on Maundy Thursday


Westbound through Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset

  • M1 from Junction 6A (M25 interchange) to J13

  • M5 from Junction 15 (Almondsbury) towards J31 (Exeter for West Country)

  • M6 through West Midlands (from J4A) and northwards (J21A)

  • M25 especially both ways around J14/17 for Heathrow and M4 or M40

Getty Images

Max Holdstock, from the AA, said: "Despite a more chilly Easter coming up, we expect more people to head out on the road. There will be a lot of pressure on the main getaway routes, particularly heading down to south-west England. and the likes of the M25, M1 and M6 are also going to be very busy.

"With around half planning to visit friends and family, there will be many people racking up quite large distances. For some, it will be their first long-distance car journey of the year, which can reveal underlying mechanical problems that didn't manifest themselves during short winter trips."

Roadworks lifted

Highways England said it planned to finish or lift 208 sets of roadworks in time for the getaway. Work on 75 sites will not start again until just after midnight on Tuesday 29 March.

However, 57 sets of roadworks will stay in place because they have large excavation or major structural projects which would make them unsafe to lift. They include five miles worth of narrow lanes on the M6 between junctions 19 and 20 near Knutsford.

Roadworks over Easter


Sets of roadworks lifted or completed by 6am on Thursday


Sets of roadworks staying in place for safety reasons

  • 257 miles of roadworks lifted at 133 locations

  • 15 set removed from the M25

  • 11 lifted or finished on the M6, freeing up 59.1 miles

Getty Images

Rail disruption

More than 450 rail engineering projects are being carried out from late on Thursday over the Easter holidays. Network Rail said it had chosen now because fewer than half of the usual 4.5 million passengers are using the railways. It has warned people to check before they travel.

Work will mean reduced services on the Brighton main line while two of four lines will shut between London Paddington and Reading.

Services between Wolverhampton and Birmingham are also disrupted until the end of Wednesday 30 March, with London Midland running replacement bus services.

No rail services at all are running to or from Salford Central or Manchester Victoria until Monday 4 April. Replacement buses will be in use and trams will still run.

Services to Heathrow Airport will be reduced from four an hour to two on Saturday and Easter Monday.

Rail disruption over Easter


separate engineering projects

  • £60m being spent over the four-day Easter weekend

  • 15,000 staff working

  • 95% of network promised to be open as normal

  • 11 days of closure for Manchester Victoria and Salford Central stations

Source: Network Rail

Taking flight

Heathrow Airport is preparing for 850,000 people to travel over the weekend, including 200,000 more families than usual.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport expects to see 139,293 passengers come and go between Thursday and Easter Monday.

The busiest day for departures from Birmingham is Saturday with 15,873 people booked on to flights.

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