South West travel warning as bank holiday getaway commences

A warning has been issued to motorists ahead of the bank holiday weekend. Experts from the RAC expect 16 million car journeys to take place between today (Friday, May 3) and Monday (May 6), with key roads across the South West set to be among the busiest. Inrix, a transport analytics firm, has issued a warning that major routes, including the M5 and the A303, could see travel times increase by 50 per cent this afternoon.

Drivers are braced for a 'crescendo of cars' to hit the roads as the weekend getaway commences. They are advised to set off before 9am or after 5pm to avoid the worst of the traffic. Traffic is expected to be particularly heavy in parts of the North West, East Anglia, and the South West as people head home on Monday.

Post-coronavirus travel restrictions have seen a surge in planned leisure trips for the Early May Bank Holiday, with figures from the RAC indicating numbers "well above" the usual 14 million. A survey conducted by the RAC, involving over 3,000 UK motorists, reveals that 39 per cent plan to visit family and friends, 14 per cent are aiming for a shopping trip, and 8 per cent are looking forward to a short break with loved ones this long weekend. Alice Simpson, a spokesperson for the RAC, said: "With coronavirus[1] travel restrictions a thing of the past, catching up with friends and family is still the first priority for nearly half of drivers making leisure trips over the bank holiday.

Since 2022 the first full year since mobility restrictions lifted drivers appear to be much more eager to make the most of the May Day weekend, with the total number of getaway trips this year far exceeding the average since 2017. "We're anticipating a crescendo of cars on the road over the weekend with as many as three million motorists making leisure trips on Saturday alone." In addition to the majority of motorists planning day trips and short breaks, our data shows local routes to city and out-of-town shopping centres could see heavy traffic, so it's best to head out early morning or evening if possible." Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue added: "Although delays won't be as severe as Easter, drivers should expect the lengthiest hold-ups on major roads to and from popular destinations this weekend.

Delays will likely peak on Friday afternoon with some areas seeing usual travel times double as holiday drivers vie for space on the roads with commuters." However, Britain's rail network will also face disruptions due to engineering work and industrial strikes. Network Rail revealed that they shall carry out 487 projects during the bank holiday period.

On Sunday (May 5), services between London Euston and Milton Keynes or between Glasgow and England will not operate due to works on the West Coast Main Line at Crewe, Wigan and other locations. Further disruptions are expected over the weekend in Cambridge, Coventry and Liverpool. Anit Chandarana, Network Rail's system operator director, has assured that "the vast majority of the railway will be open for business as normal." He explained: "We know people want to travel by train and not replacement bus, and we do our best to fit as much work as we can into these closures to minimise the impact on passengers and freight customers."

Chandarana highlighted the significant upgrades planned, stating: "The work this month will see new track laid on one of the busiest mixed-use railway in the world the West Coast Main Line along with work to replace worn out equipment at junctions at Crewe." He added: "We've also got more work to build a new station at Cambridge South, which will play a key role in developing the city and its new biomedical campus in a sustainable way." However, disruptions are on the horizon as Aslef union's train drivers have scheduled three one-day strikes across various operators from May 7 to 9, potentially leaving some regions without rail services. The union has declared an overtime ban from May 6-11, likely leading to short-notice cancellations.

Aslef continues its lengthy dispute over pay, with no negotiations taking place for over a year.


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