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23 April 2024

Transport delays for cold Easter getaway

By Agencies

Rail passengers and motorists can expect delays during the cold Easter holiday getaway, transport organisations warned on Thursday.


Rail routes across the country are likely to be affected as 6,000 workers carry out engineering work on tracks, bridges and signalling systems, including the West Coast Line which was badly hit by overruns over Christmas and the New Year.


Iain Coucher, chief executive of Network Rail, said it was better prepared this time, and had minimised the risk of overruns.


"We have learnt our lessons," he told BBC radio.


"We have looked at the work we are doing, we have been absolutely meticulous in our scrutiny of the work that we need to do, make sure we can do the work, get in and get out without affecting the travelling public."


Those hoping to escape by road also face long queues, despite the Highways Agency removing almost two-thirds of roadworks from England's motorways and major A-roads during the holiday period.


The RAC is predicting the worst ever traffic because of Easter coming early this year.


"I think it is the first time that perhaps this has happened ... that many schools actually aren't on holidays ... for Easter this year and so people are actually trying to make the most of this extended weekend, but they have only got the four days in which to do it," a RAC spokeswoman told BBC radio.


Another factor contributing to likely queues is people hoping to take advantage of the first public holiday of the year.


There will be little respite for holidaymakers on the weather front either, with northerly winds and snow forecast.


Heavy snow is predicted to fall in eastern Scotland and northeast England as well as parts of the Midlands over the weekend, with up to 10 cm expected on higher ground.


Widespread ice is expected on Sunday.


Derek Turner, Highways Agency director of traffic operations, said: "We encourage people to plan their journeys using the travel and weather information that is available on Web sites and radio bulletins."


Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly opened the first motorway car-share lane on Thursday.


The 1.7-mile lane, between the southbound M606 near Bradford to the eastbound M62 towards Leeds, will be open to cars and taxis carrying two or more occupants as well as buses and coaches.


It is expected to save road users an average six to eight minutes per journey. (Reuters)