Home » Travel chaos as UK gears up for busiest late May Bank Holiday since Covid – with trains disrupted, long queues at Dover, airports packed with travellers and 20million journeys set to clog up Britain’s roads

Travel chaos as UK gears up for busiest late May Bank Holiday since Covid – with trains disrupted, long queues at Dover, airports packed with travellers and 20million journeys set to clog up Britain’s roads

Britons were warned to prepare for congestion on what is set to be the busiest late May bank holiday weekend on the roads since the start of the pandemic.

More than 20million leisure trips by car are expected to be made between today and Monday, which would be the most for the late May bank holiday weekend since 2019.

The worst day to travel is likely to be today because the start of the long weekend coincides with the beginning of half-term for many schools, according to the RAC.

Drivers leaving today were advised to delay setting off until 6pm to miss the worst of the queues, while the busiest time tomorrow is expected to be 3pm until 6pm.

P&O Ferries warned of ‘long queues at border controls’ at Dover, adding: ‘If you miss your sailing, we will transfer you to the next available once at our check-in booths.’ 

Rail passengers were also facing delays on some routes this morning, including:

  • London Overground: No service between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction;
  • Bakerloo line: Delays from Elephant & Castle to Queen’s Park due to train shortage;
  • West Midlands: Delays from Birmingham to Wolverhampton due to theft attempt;
  • Merseyrail: No service between Formby and Southport due to a broken-down train;
  • Great Western Railway: Delays from Truro to Falmouth Docks due to a train fault.

Families will be looking to make the most of the improving weather, with stormy conditions expected to ease and some areas seeing highs of 23C (73F).

The Met Office said all regions of the UK will see some dry spells this weekend after a washout week, with the sunniest and driest periods coming tomorrow.

* Caught up in getaway chaos on the roads or rails? Email: tips@dailymail.com * 

Huge crowds at London King’s Cross railway station today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Traffic on the A102(M) Blackwall Tunnel approach in Greenwich, South East London, today

Traffic on the A102(M) Blackwall Tunnel approach in Greenwich, South East London, today

Passengers with their luggage at London St Pancras International railway station this morning

Passengers with their luggage at London St Pancras International railway station this morning

Families queue to check-in for flights at Manchester Airport's Terminal Two this morning

Families queue to check-in for flights at Manchester Airport’s Terminal Two this morning

Huge crowds at London King's Cross railway station today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Huge crowds at London King’s Cross railway station today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Holidaymakers queue at London Heathrow Airport today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Holidaymakers queue at London Heathrow Airport today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Huge crowds at London King's Cross railway station today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Huge crowds at London King’s Cross railway station today as the bank holiday getaway begins

Transport analytics company Inrix warned that journeys on the M25 clockwise between Junction 7 for the M23 and Junction 21 for the M1 are expected to be delayed by more than 90 minutes in the late afternoon of today.

Tomorrow, delays are anticipated to reach an hour on a 45-mile southbound stretch of the M5 – a popular holiday route – from Junction 16 north of Bristol to Junction 25 for Taunton, Somerset.

Other routes from cities to coasts are expected to have some of the worst delays as drivers head to the seaside to enjoy the warmer weather.

There will also be disruption to train services this weekend as Network Rail carries out engineering projects, with services on the West Coast Main Line set to be reduced due to work around Crewe and Carlisle.

Trains will also be affected by track renewals between Carstairs and Lanark in Scotland, while there will be significant changes to services on the Great Eastern Main Line because of work building a new station at Beaulieu Park to the east of Chelmsford.

RAC spokeswoman Alice Simpson said: ‘Our research suggests this weekend could be the busiest of the year so far on the roads, with millions of people embarking on getaway trips to make the most of the three days and, for those with school age children, the start of the half-term holiday.

‘In fact, we’re looking at possible leisure traffic volumes returning to levels similar to what we last saw in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, as drivers’ desire to make the most of the UK increases.

‘And, in those places where the warm spring sunshine makes its presence felt, the number of people deciding to get behind the wheel and head for the coast or countryside will only go up, swelling the overall volume of cars on the roads.’

The RAC expects traffic volumes to remain consistently high throughout the long weekend as 3.7million trips are expected to take place tomorrow, while 3.4million journeys are anticipated on both Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

A further 5.7million leisure trips by car are planned at some point throughout the long weekend.

It comes after more than 22million drivers hit the road during the same period in 2019 – meaning the volume of getaways this year could reach 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue said: ‘With near-record number of travellers expected to be on the roads over the holiday period, drivers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major cities and towards the coasts.

‘The best general advice to anyone spending time away from home this weekend is to travel as early or as late in the day as possible to avoid the worst delays.’

And Network Rail said it often carries out major engineering work over bank holiday periods to reduce the number of passengers impacted.

It comes after flooding hit parts of the north of England this week, with Carlisle in Cumbria seeing 88mm (3.5in) of rain in 48 hours. The average for May is 55mm (2.2in) across the whole month.

Met Office meteorologist Amy Bokota expects conditions will improve over the bank holiday, with some areas seeing highs of 23C (73F) on Saturday.

She said: ‘The low pressure is expected to east away on Friday. It will be a touch cooler than the last couple days and parts of the north east and Scotland will see showers. On the whole it is an improved picture.

‘Things will improve as we head into Saturday morning. Wind will ease and it will be a pretty good day across the board.

‘Scotland will see a few showers but the bulk of the UK will see brighter spells. The best will be 22 to 23C across the south of England and London.’

Tomorrow evening is expected to bring some showers in southern Wales, the South West and Cornwall. This is then expected to push northwards on Sunday.

Sunday will see more cloudy conditions and outbreaks of rain. The North West of England and the southern parts of Wales could see thunderstorms.

Ms Bokota added: ‘It will stay unsettled through Bank Holiday Monday. There will be further showers in parts of Scotland, the North East of England and Northern Ireland.

‘The best weather will be in the very far South West of the UK and southern England. Elsewhere will see heavy showers and isolated thunderstorms. It will then stay quite unsettled into the next week.

‘On the whole, there are no major watchpoints for flooding. While it is expected to rain, this will move quicker and won’t be the same persistent heavy rain we’ve had in the last couple of days.’

* Caught up in getaway chaos on the roads or rails? Email: tips@dailymail.com *