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Easter travel – live: Bank holiday chaos as drivers face 20-mile queues on M4 and M5 and delays at Dover

The bank holiday travel chaos continues as drivers face up to 20-mile-long queues on major motorways as well as two-hour delays at the Port of Dover.

Around 2.6 million car journeys were expected to be made on Good Friday as the Easter getaway got underway, with holiday traffic causing “significant” congestion around the M25 and roads in the South West and South East by lunchtime. Queues of 15 to 20 miles were seen on the M4 and M5 interchange near Bristol, which is adding 45 minutes to journey times.

Meanwhile, the Port of Dover warned of two-hour delays on Friday afternoon. Huge queues could be seen building up there after ferry company DFDS reported on Thursday that its services were running with delays “due to strong winds in the Channel”.

And once again there are long waits for French passport control at the Kent port, where frontier formalities are carried out before boarding ferries to France. Since Brexit, officials are required to scrutinise and stamp UK passports.

It comes after plans were dashed as strong winds from the Spanish-named Storm Nelson hit the start of the wet long weekend, forcing the cancellation of trains, with almost 200 flood warnings and alerts remaining in place across the UK on Friday.

Key Points

  • Motorists stuck in ‘pretty horrendous’ 20-mile long Good Friday motorway queues

  • Port of Dover warns two-hour delays continue blaming ‘adverse weather'

  • Severe disruption for rail passengers, particularly between London and southwest England

Holiday traffic has been ‘pretty horrendous’ on Good Friday so far

16:30 , Sam Rkaina

Holiday traffic has caused “pretty horrendous” 20-mile long queues on major motorways, adding 45 minutes to journey times.

Around 2.6 million car journeys were expected to be made on Good Friday, with “significant” congestion around the M25 and roads in the South West and South East by lunchtime.

The RAC said holidaymakers heading south were behind much of the congestion after forecasters predicted sunnier spells there over the next few days.

Queues of 15 to 20 miles were seen on the M4 and M5 interchange near Bristol, which is adding 45 minutes on to journey times.

Meanwhile, the western side of the M25 was described as “pretty bad” and a “lot worse than normal”, with 40-minute queues.

It was also busy on the top-end of the M20, with congestion heading into Folkestone.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams told the PA news agency: “Everyone’s heading to Devon and Cornwall, that’s the attraction, and there’s been a bit of better weather.

“It’s causing some pretty horrendous queues.”

 (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)
(Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

More than 170 flood warnings and alerts remain in place in UK after Storm Nelson

16:00 , Tara Cobham

More than 170 flood warnings and alerts remain in place across the UK following Storm Nelson.

As of Friday morning, 152 flood alerts had been issued by the Environment Agency (EA), meaning flooding in those areas is possible, while 21 flood warnings were in place in areas where flooding is expected.

Met Office forecasts warmer temperatures for Easter weekend

15:30 , Tara Cobham

The Met Office has forecast warmer temperatures for the Easter weekend than those of recent days.

The forecaster said Britons can expect rising temperatures for their bank holiday weekend, with highs of 16C predicted for Sunday.

Motorists stuck in ‘pretty horrendous’ 20-mile long Good Friday motorway queues

15:04 , Tara Cobham

Holiday traffic has caused “pretty horrendous” 20-mile long queues on major motorways, adding 45 minutes to journey times.

Around 2.6 million car journeys were expected to be made on Good Friday, with “significant” congestion around the M25 and roads in the South West and South East by lunchtime.

The RAC said holidaymakers heading south were behind much of the congestion after forecasters predicted sunnier spells there over the next few days.

Ted Hennessey reports:

Motorists stuck in ‘pretty horrendous’ 20-mile long Good Friday motorway queues

Met Office reveals latest forecast for Easter weekend

14:30 , Tara Cobham

The Met Office has revealed its latest forecast for the Easter weekend.

The forecaster warned of a risk of thunder later today.

Port of Dover warns two-hour delays continue blaming ‘adverse weather'

14:00 , Tara Cobham

The Port of Dover has warned delays of up to two hours continue, blaming the backlog on the “adverse weather”.

As of 2pm on Friday, the port said the processing time for tourists was two hours in the wake of Storm Nelson, which battered the UK with wind and rain, causing major travel disruption across the country.

Severe disruption for rail passengers, particularly between London and southwest England

13:56 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

On the railways, passengers are having to cope with a combination of planned disruption – in the shape of Network Rail engineering closures – and unexpected chaos.

The closure of the West Coast main line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for a upgrade was flagged months in advance, and many people made their journeys between London, the West Midlands, northwest England and southern Scotland late on Thursday before the line was blocked.

The main trans-Pennine route has buses running instead of trains between Manchester and Huddersfield – again, advertised well ahead.

Much of the “on the day” disruption involves Great Western Railway, which serves the West of England and South Wales from London Paddington. The main line to Exeter, the rest of Devon and Cornwall has been closed since last night due to flooding between Newbury and Westbury.

The rail firm is telling passengers: “The flood water has now subsided, however there has been significant damage to the railway infrastructure so Network Rail need to keep the line closed in order to make the railway safe. This disruption is expected to last until the end of the day.

“Our high speed trains between London Paddington and the southwest will divert between Reading and Taunton.”

The trans-Wiltshire railway from Westbury to Swindon is also closed.

Local stations are being linked by taxis organised by GWR.

Simon Calder travel advice: When to renew your passport before visiting Europe

13:30 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

Since Brexit, the rules on passport validity for British visitors to the European Union have tightened.

Gone are the days when you could travel to the EU at any point before your travel document expired; the UK is now a “third country”, with rules to match.

Added confusion has come in the form of the UK’s own HM Passport Office, which has continued to give out incorrect information regarding child passport expiry dates.

These are the key questions and answers based on EU rules:

Simon Calder travel advice: When to renew your passport before visiting Europe

Easter travel chaos: How bad will it be?

13:00 , Tara Cobham

The great Easter getaway could see travellers caught up in delays by road, ferry, rail and air. In a normal year there would be a gap between most schools breaking up and the long weekend. But with Easter falling so early the two are combined. Term is ending at many schools on Thursday 28 March, putting extra pressure on transportation.

At least three major UK airports – Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh – have told The Independent this will be their busiest Easter ever. Some airlines are predicting record numbers for the spell between Good Friday and Easter Monday. Geneva routes will be extremely busy with winter sports fans, while Malaga, Alicante, Faro and Tenerife are the leading spring sunshine holiday destinations.

Among city breaks, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Paris and Rome are the most popular. Dubai, Orlando and New York are the key longer-haul destinations.

Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent reports:

Easter travel chaos: How bad will it be and when are the worst time to travel?

In pictures: Travellers at Liverpool Street station as getaway continues for Easter weekend

12:35 , Tara Cobham

 (Lucy North/PA Wire)
(Lucy North/PA Wire)
 (Lucy North/PA Wire)
(Lucy North/PA Wire)
 (Lucy North/PA Wire)
(Lucy North/PA Wire)

Watch: Queues at Dover as Easter getaway underway

12:34 , Tara Cobham

Dover delays for post-Brexit passport checks

11:32 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

Once again queues have built up for French passport control at the Port of Dover, where frontier formalities are carried out before boarding ferries to France. Since Brexit, officials are required to scrutinise and stamp UK passports.

The port is warning of two-hour delays.

P&O Ferries has tweeted: "Ahoy travellers. We are aware of the queues in Dover. Please rest assured that if you miss your sailing, we will put you on the next available ship once you reach check in."

In pictures: Wind and rain batters UK as Londoners seen setting off for long weekend

10:53 , Tara Cobham

 (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
(Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
 (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
(Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
 (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
(Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Respect the liquids rule, says Manchester airport boss

10:47 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

Chris Woodroofe, managing director of Manchester airport, has been giving advice to travellers heading abroad this weekend.

Speaking to The Independent’s daily travel podcast, the airport boss said: “There's been a lot of talk in the news about the new liquids and laptops rules. The reality is that pretty much every UK airport is in the process of changing. So if you're coming to an airport, do make sure you still get your liquids and your laptops ready to come out of your bag.

“If you come to [Manchester airport] Terminal 2 today, there's a reasonable chance you'll go through one of those new lanes, and that's great. It just means you don't have to take the things out of your bag.

“We're in the middle of a £1.3 billion transformation programme. In the next 12 months we are going to spend half a billion pounds on improving Terminal 2, investing in those new security scanning machines and really pushing on to make Manchester airport the place the people in the North can be proud of.”

Listen to the full episode here:

March 29th - Manchester Airport reaches for the skies | Simon Calder's Independent Travel Podcast

In pictures: Passengers descend on King’s Cross Station on Good Friday

10:45 , Tara Cobham

Passengers on the platform at London King's Cross Station as the getaway continues for the Easter weekend (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Passengers on the platform at London King's Cross Station as the getaway continues for the Easter weekend (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Passengers waiting for trains at London King's Cross Station on Good Friday (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Passengers waiting for trains at London King's Cross Station on Good Friday (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Passengers waiting for trains at London King's Cross Station as the getaway continues for the Easter weekend (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Passengers waiting for trains at London King's Cross Station as the getaway continues for the Easter weekend (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Almost 200 flood warnings and alerts in place across UK

10:10 , Tara Cobham

Almost 200 flood warnings and alerts are in place across the UK.

As of Friday morning, 163 flood alerts had been issued by the Environment Agency (EA), meaning flooding in those areas is possible, while 30 flood warnings were in place in areas where flooding is expected.

In pictures: Cars pass Stonehenge in Wiltshire on A303 as Easter getaway continues

10:07 , Tara Cobham

 (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)
(Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)
 (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)
(Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

AA warns electric vehicle drivers to have sufficient charge – or risk fines and penalty points

10:04 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

The AA is warning drivers of electric vehicles to ensure they have sufficient charge – or risk fines and penalty points.

Jack Cousens, head of road policy at the motoring organisation, said: “There can be some genuine reasons for running out of fuel or electric charge such as a faulty gauge, charging fault or undetected fuel leak.

"On occasions, cars may get stuck in jams for hours due to bad winter weather or miles of disruption leading to Channel ports which could result in running out of fuel or charge running low. Hence, we advise to always have at least one-quarter of a tank of fuel or sufficient charge to account for diversions if some chargers aren’t working.

“Most of the out-of-fuel cases the AA sees are a result of driver misjudgement, and the police have the power to give a warning or a penalty if it is deemed to be careless driving or causes an obstruction. If you are running low, you can use the AA route planner to find the closest and cheapest fuel and the nearest charging point.”

Met Office reveals weather extremes of Thursday after day brought ‘real mix'

09:58 , Tara Cobham

The Met Office has said Thursday brought a “real mix” of weather as it revealed the extremes of the day.

The UK saw snow, hail, thunder, rain, gales and sunshine, as temperatures plunged to below freezing in some areas and as high as 12.5C in others.

In pictures: Passengers at Manchester airport at start of Easter getaway

09:54 , Tara Cobham

 (Simon Calder)
(Simon Calder)
 (Simon Calder)
(Simon Calder)

One of UK’s main motorway arteries, the A1(M), is closed today, warns AA president

09:53 , Tara Cobham

The president of the AA is warning that one of the UK’s main motorway arteries, the A1(M), is closed today.

Edmund King has said the road is shut on Friday at J6 northbound between Welwyn and Stevenage for roadworks.

He added that the M20 is slow towards Dover.

Port of Dover report passengers face delays of well over an hour

09:42 , Tara Cobham

Major queues have been seen at the Port of Dover as passengers face delays of well over an hour.

The Port of Dover was reporting on Friday morning that the processing time for cars arriving at the port was 70 minutes.

Easter travel chaos: How bad will it be?

09:00 , Tara Cobham

The great Easter getaway could see travellers caught up in delays by road, ferry, rail and air. In a normal year there would be a gap between most schools breaking up and the long weekend. But with Easter falling so early the two are combined. Term is ending at many schools on Thursday 28 March, putting extra pressure on transportation.

At least three major UK airports – Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh – have told The Independent this will be their busiest Easter ever. Some airlines are predicting record numbers for the spell between Good Friday and Easter Monday. Geneva routes will be extremely busy with winter sports fans, while Malaga, Alicante, Faro and Tenerife are the leading spring sunshine holiday destinations.

Among city breaks, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Paris and Rome are the most popular. Dubai, Orlando and New York are the key longer-haul destinations.

Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent reports:

Easter travel chaos: How bad will it be and when are the worst time to travel?

Warning over Easter ‘carmageddon’ traffic chaos – which day will see the worst traffic?

08:30 , Tara Cobham

Drivers are being warned of chaos on roads over the Easter weekend, with as many as 18.5 million car trips planned at the start of school holidays.

Those setting out on their journeys are likely to encounter delays from Thursday 28 March, when children break up at the end of term, into Good Friday, with one specialist warning that it could be “carmageddon” for those making their getaways.

The overall travel picture should not be as bad as in 2023, when the Easter weekend coincided with strikes that led to the cancellation and delays of dozens of flights and widespread rail engineering work.

Benjamin Parker reports:

These are the worst days for Easter traffic after ‘carmageddon’ warning

In pictures: Passengers queue for ferries at the Port of Dover in Kent

08:16 , Tara Cobham

 (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
 (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
 (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Manchester United fans risk being stranded after kick off time change

08:00 , Tara Cobham

Manchester United fans have spoken out in anger against the decision to move their Premier League match against Brentford at the weekend to the late kick off time.

The match is due to kick off at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday 30 March at 8pm GMT.

The kick off time is just two minutes before the last train is scheduled to depart London St Pancras for Manchester Piccadilly. London Euston is not in service this weekend because of engineering works between London and Milton Keynes.

Sonia Twigg reports:

Why Manchester United fans have been left fuming by Brentford kick-off time

Manchester Piccadilly station almost deserted

07:21 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

One of the UK’s busiest rail hubs, Manchester Piccadilly, is extremely quiet this morning. Two of the key routes from the station are closed for Network Rail engineering work: the West Coast main line to London Euston and the main trans-Pennine route to Huddersfield and Leeds.

From Manchester to London, the journey time is nearly doubled to around four hours. Avanti West Coast trains are running as far south as Milton Keynes Central, from where rail replacement buses are running to Bedford for a connection to East Midlands Railway.

Buses are also replacing trains between Manchester and Huddersfield.

Disruption on other lines began early, with Northern trains from Manchester Piccadilly to the airport delayed.

One week from today, no Avanti West Coast trains will run because of a strike involving train drivers belonging to the Aslef union.

One of the UK’s busiest rail hubs, Manchester Piccadilly, is extremely quiet this morning (Simon Calder / The Independent)
One of the UK’s busiest rail hubs, Manchester Piccadilly, is extremely quiet this morning (Simon Calder / The Independent)

Stansted airport cut off from London by rail

07:17 , Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent

Passengers heading for the UK’s fourth-busiest airport, London Stansted, face big potential problems this morning. The Stansted Express railway line from the capital to the airport is not running, with “major disruption” expected until 10.30am.

A falling tree brought down overhead wires near the station of Stansted Mountfitchet. Some trains are running to Bishop’s Stortford, where taxis are available. But on one of the busiest days of the year so far for the Essex airport, it seems inevitable that some airline passengers will miss their flights.

National Rail is telling passengers: “Customers are asked NOT TO TRAVEL between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

“Tickets for today will be accepted tomorrow.”

Trains to and from Cambridge are also affected, but passengers can use an alternative line from London King's Cross.

Normally four trains per hour would run each way between Stansted and London Liverpool Street, with capacity for more than 2,000 passengers.

Passengers heading for the UK’s fourth-busiest airport, London Stansted, face big potential problems this morning (Stansted Express)
Passengers heading for the UK’s fourth-busiest airport, London Stansted, face big potential problems this morning (Stansted Express)

UK airports bracing for two million holidaymakers over Easter weekend

07:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Two million British holidaymakers are set to jet off abroad over the Easter weekend, with one airport bracing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers.

Turkey, Dubai and the Canary Islands are among the most popular destinations amid wet and windy weather forecast for the UK, although trips to Dublin are also in demand.

Travel trade organisation Abta said airports are reporting “strong numbers”, with 175,000 due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham, and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

Manchester Airport managing director Chris Woodroofe said: “It’s exciting that record numbers of people will be taking off from here this Easter: 320,000 people will travel (through the airport) over the bank holiday weekend - that’s up 7% on April 2023.”

Glasgow predicts more than 90,000 passengers over the four days, while Birmingham Airport said it expects a 27.2% increase in departures on last year over the full Easter period.

Bristol, which predicts 30,000 holiday trips on Easter Sunday alone, advised: “If travelling with Easter eggs, passengers are advised to keep any chocolate treats in your cabin baggage and to make sure they’re easily accessible as they may need to be opened for a quick check.”

Liverpool Airport expects around 60,000 passengers over the four days, which is around 7% higher than last year.

Weather warnings for wind and rain issued ahead of Easter weekend

05:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Met Office said the forecast for the Easter weekend remained “unsettled” but “bright and breezy”, with temperatures of up to 15C in west London and 14C in Manchester on Sunday, which was typical for this time of year.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With plenty of classic early spring weather over the Easter bank holiday weekend, drivers getting away will definitely need to be on their guard and ready to cope with rapidly changing road conditions.

“Slowing down in the heaviest of downpours on Good Friday and Easter Saturday is a must as stopping distances will be far greater.”

UK airport expects record weekend as Easter egg warning issued

03:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Two million holidaymakers are set to jet off over the Easter weekend, with one airport bracing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers.

Turkey, Dubai and the Canary Islands are among the most popular destinations amid wet and windy weather forecast for the UK, although trips to Dublin are also in demand.

Travel trade organisation Abta said airports are reporting “strong numbers”, with 175,000 due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham, and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

UK airport expects record weekend as Easter egg warning issued

Warning over Easter ‘carmageddon’ traffic chaos – which day will see the worst traffic?

02:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Drivers are being warned of chaos on roads over the Easter weekend, with as many as 18.5 million car trips planned at the start of school holidays.

Those setting out on their journeys are likely to encounter delays from Thursday 28 March, when children break up at the end of term, into Good Friday, with one specialist warning that it could be “carmageddon” for those making their getaways.

The overall travel picture should not be as bad as in 2023, when the Easter weekend coincided with strikes that led to the cancellation and delays of dozens of flights and widespread rail engineering work.

These are the worst days for Easter traffic after ‘carmageddon’ warning

Barred from Europe: 2.4m Brits caught in post-Brexit passport chaos

00:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Millions of Britons are barred from entering the EU by post-Brexit passport rules that are set to cause chaos over the Easter holidays.

With the getaway starting in earnest on Thursday, an estimated 2.4 million travellers have documents that can’t be used for trips to the EU because of the change in expiry requirements.

Since Brexit, British passports must have an issue date less than 10 years old on the day of departure to the EU, and must have at least three months left before their expiry date on the intended day of return. But millions of passports issued prior to September 2018 have longer validity periods.

Barred from Europe: 2.4m Brits caught in post-Brexit passport chaos

Easter travel chaos: How bad will it be?

Thursday 28 March 2024 23:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The great Easter getaway could see travellers caught up in delays by road, ferry, rail and air. In a normal year there would be a gap between most schools breaking up and the long weekend. But with Easter falling so early the two are combined. Term is ending at many schools on Thursday 28 March, putting extra pressure on transportation.

At least three major UK airports – Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh – have told The Independent this will be their busiest Easter ever. Some airlines are predicting record numbers for the spell between Good Friday and Easter Monday. Geneva routes will be extremely busy with winter sports fans, while Malaga, Alicante, Faro and Tenerife are the leading spring sunshine holiday destinations.

Easter travel chaos: How bad will it be and when are the worst time to travel?

Easter warning to drivers over bank holiday weekend after snow falls in Devon and Wales

Thursday 28 March 2024 21:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Drivers in some parts of the country have been warned to take “extreme care” after snow fell overnight ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Snow settled in areas of Devon and Wales overnight as the weather over the next few days is set to be chilly and drizzly.

According to the RAC, 14 million people are due to travel on the roads this weekend with some popular routes taking double the amount of time they usually would.

Easter warning to drivers over bank holiday after snow falls in Devon and Wales

UK airport expects record weekend as Easter egg warning issued

Thursday 28 March 2024 19:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Two million holidaymakers are set to jet off over the Easter weekend, with one airport bracing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers.

Turkey, Dubai and the Canary Islands are among the most popular destinations amid wet and windy weather forecast for the UK, although trips to Dublin are also in demand.

Travel trade organisation Abta said airports are reporting “strong numbers”, with 175,000 due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham, and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

UK airport expects record weekend as Easter egg warning issued

Manchester United fans risk being stranded after kick off time change

Thursday 28 March 2024 18:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Manchester United fans have spoken out in anger against the decision to move their Premier League match against Brentford at the weekend to the late kick off time.

The match is due to kick off at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday 30 March at 8pm GMT.

The kick off time is just two minutes before the last train is scheduled to depart London St Pancras for Manchester Piccadilly. London Euston is not in service this weekend because of engineering works between London and Milton Keynes.

Manchester United fans risk being stranded after kick off time change

UK Border Force staff to strike at Heathrow airport

Thursday 28 March 2024 18:06 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

More than 600 Border Force officers deployed at Heathrow airport will walk out for four days from 11 April – potentially causing chaos as families return from Easter holidays.

The strike by members of the PCS union has been timed to hit the busiest days for arrival at the UK’s biggest airport.

In a ballot that closed last week, PCS members who carry out immigration controls and passport checks at Heathrow airport voted by nine to one to walk out over a new roster and imposed changes to shift patterns.

The union says the changes could see as many as 250 staff losing their jobs.

The PCS general secretary, Fran Heathcote, said: “Ministers have 14 days to withdraw these unfair and unnecessary proposals or our members at Heathrow will take strike action.

“Consultation with staff has been a farce, with our members having little or no choice about the new arrangements.

“Ripping up flexible working arrangements is no way to treat staff especially, as the government says, their work is critical to our nation’s security.

“Some members are heart-broken that the Border Force has become ‘unprofessional and inhumane’.

“If the government is serious about border security, it should look at Border Force officers’ job security, look after its staff, scrap the changes and work with us to protect jobs and working conditions.”

The Independent has asked the Home Office for a response

Airport packed for Easter getaway hopefuls as planes struggle to land

Thursday 28 March 2024 17:08 , Athena Stavrou

Airports are packed with eager holidaymakers today as planes face difficulty landing amid extreme winds and heavy rain.

Drivers, rail passengers and now jet-setters are facing travel chaos as many attempt to get their Easter weekend started.

Two million holidaymakers are set to take flight over the weekend, with one airport bracing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers.

Turkey, Dubai and the Canary Islands are among the most popular destinations amid wet and windy weather forecast for the UK, although trips to Dublin are also in demand.

Travel trade organisation Abta said airports are reporting “strong numbers”, with 175,000 due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham, and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

Manchester Airport managing director Chris Woodroofe said: ‘It’s exciting that record numbers of people will be taking off from here this Easter: 320,000 people will travel (through the airport) over the bank holiday weekend - that’s up 7 per cent on April 2023.’

It comes as dramatic footage showed an easyJet flight from Faro abort a landing at Gatwick Airport in heavy rain and strong winds at around 12:30pm.

The Airbus A320 wobbles from side to side before pulling up again to avoid disaster. It landed ten minutes later successfully.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Not very Great Western Railway

Thursday 28 March 2024 17:03 , Simon Calder

Rail passengers hoping to travel between London Paddington, the West of England and South Wales face an Easter full of problems.

The main line from Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads is blocked because of flooding.

Passengers are being told by GWR: “Network Rail advise that due to flooding at Christian Malford, only one line is currently available between Swindon and Chippenham, meaning trains will have to ‘take it in turns’ to use the one available track.

“This will cause delays on the route between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads via Swindon, Chippenham and Bath Spa.”

On Sunday, the main line west of the capital will be disrupted in the morning due to emergency engineering works to sets of points.

Passengers are warned: “Emergency engineering works will affect services between London Paddington and Reading this Sunday. Customers are advised not to travel until midday.

“Repairs need to be undertaken to sets of points over Saturday night and Sunday morning to prevent further disruption affecting more passengers after the weekend.

“Trains will continue to operate between Reading and Bristol, South Wales, and Devon and Cornwall. However, there may be short-notice changes and cancellations, and customers are advised to check journeys beforehand.

“We’re very sorry for any inconvenience caused. Ticket acceptance will be in place with South Western Railway between Waterloo and Reading, and Chiltern Railways between Marylebone and Oxford.”

 (Supplied)
(Supplied)

Attractions forced to shut amid extreme weather

Thursday 28 March 2024 17:01 , Athena Stavrou

People looking for a fun day out in some areas of the UK had their plans ruined today as the extreme weather forced some attractions to close.

Kew Gardens in London closed early at 3pm due to the wet and window conditions along with areas of Bushy Park and Kensington Gardens.

Dartmoor Zoo in Devon - which saw snow fall over night - also shut due to the wind alongside some National Trust sites including Needles Old Battery and Mottisfont Gardens in Hampshire

Nearly three inches of snow was recorded this morning at Sennybridge in Powys, Wales, while two inches fell overnight just north of Dartmoor.

Kew Gardens was forced to shut early due to the weather (PA Archive)
Kew Gardens was forced to shut early due to the weather (PA Archive)

Ferries cancelled as Storm Nelson brings extreme winds

Thursday 28 March 2024 16:56 , Athena Stavrou

Ferries have been cancelled and delayed today due to strong winds as Briton’s Easter getaway plans are left in tatters.

DFDS was forced to cancel some ferries from Dover to Calais and Dieppe to Newhaven on Thursday as sea conditions grew dangerous.

There is a yellow weather warning for wind currently in place in the south of England which predicts the possibility of road, rail, air and ferry disruption.

The Port of Dover also warned passengers that the English channel was “rough with a strong south-easterly breeze, force six”.

The Met Office has warned of wind gusts of up to 70mph in coastal areas today as Spanish-named Storm Nelson begins to wreak havoc on the country.

 (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
(Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Plane forced to abort landing amid extreme winds

Thursday 28 March 2024 16:47 , Athena Stavrou

A plane was forced to abort a landing at Gatwick Aiport today as Easter getaway hopes are dashed for Britons across the UK.

Dramatic footage showed an easyJet flight from Daro attempt to land in heavy rain and strong winds at around 12:30pm.

The Airbus A320 wobbles from side to side before pulling up again to avoid disaster. It landed ten minutes later successfully.

It comes as Spanish meteorologists named Storm Nelson as it makes its way over to the UK. It is expected to bring gusts of up to 50mph in most places with warnings that winds could reach up to 60 to 70mph in exposed coastal areas.

London Euston station ‘extremely busy’ as travellers seek to beat line closure

Thursday 28 March 2024 16:26 , Athena Stavrou

London Euston, one of the UK’s busiest stations, is extremely busy as travellers seek to reach their destinations ahead of the line closure.

The terminus will be closed to all regional and long-distance trains throughout the Easter weekend.

From Good Friday to Easter Monday, Network Rail is closing the West Coast main line between London Euston and Milton Keynes Central.

New track will be laid near Kensal Green tunnel and a busy junction just south of Milton Keynes will be replaced.

The best diversion line for the West Midlands is the Chiltern route from London Marylebone to Birmingham, while London St Pancras is expected to be extremely busy with passengers heading for Sheffield and onwards to Manchester and elsewhere in northwest England.

Caledonian Sleeper trains will run to and from London King’s Cross – where the East Coast main line is expected to be running normally.

 (Supplied)
(Supplied)

Easter warning to drivers over bank holiday weekend after snow falls in Devon and Wales

Thursday 28 March 2024 15:30 , Athena Stavrou

Drivers in some parts of the country have been warned to take “extreme care” after snow fell overnight ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Snow settled in areas of Devon and Wales overnight as the weather over the next few days is set to be chilly and drizzly.

Devon County Council issued a warning to motorists, adding: “Our gangs have been working all night to keep the roads passable but drive with extreme care, avoid high roads and stick to main roads where possible.”

Read the full story here:

Easter warning to drivers over bank holiday after snow falls in Devon and Wales

Thursday 28 March 2024 15:00 , Athena Stavrou

Two million holidaymakers are set to jet off over the Easter weekend, with one airport bracing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers.

Turkey, Dubai and the Canary Islands are among the most popular destinations amid wet and windy weather forecast for the UK, although trips to Dublin are also in demand.

Travel trade organisation Abta said airports are reporting “strong numbers”, with 175,000 due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham, and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

Bristol, which predicts 30,000 holiday trips on Easter Sunday alone, warned people flying with chocolate: “If travelling with Easter eggs, passengers are advised to keep any chocolate treats in your cabin baggage and to make sure they’re easily accessible as they may need to be opened for a quick check.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

What are the busiest routes this weekend?

Thursday 28 March 2024 14:19 , Athena Stavrou

The RAC has warned that 14 million drivers could be facing long delays as they set off on their Easter getaways this bank holiday weekend.

The busiest routes are expected to be:

The M25 between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire

M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton

M3 between the M25 and the south coast

Full list of Avanti West Coast disruptions

Thursday 28 March 2024 13:30 , Athena Stavrou

Here is a helpful list of all the affected Avanti West Coast services and stations impacted by engineering works this bank holiday weekend.

No trains will be running from London Euston as the busy station will be closed for all but Overground services.

Rail passengers warned not to travel as London Euston shuts over bank holiday weekend

Thursday 28 March 2024 12:45 , Athena Stavrou

Rail passengers have been warned to “travel either side of the Easter weekend” as London Euston is set to shut for the entire weekend.

Major improvements to track mean the busy station will be closing for all but Overground services from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

Network Rail has advised travellers to avoid the West Coast main line during the bank holiday, adding that engineering works between London and Milton Keynes. will also impact southern routes to and from London.

Replacement bus services will be in effect on various routes, and passengers have been urged to check their journeys in advance as they might face longer travel times.

 (Lucy North/PA Wire)
(Lucy North/PA Wire)

Further train cancellations and delays

Thursday 28 March 2024 12:18 , Athena Stavrou

Extreme flooding is wreaking havoc in the South West today as several lines are forced to close on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Great Western Railway said all lines are closed between Westbury and Swindon until at least 2pm.

“Due to flooding across the railway network this morning, we need to reutilise the Melksham line for other purposes,” it said.

“As a result trains between Westbury and Swindon via Melksham are suspended until further notice.”

There have also been delays and cancellations between Swindon and Bristol Parkway, Westbury and Weymouth, Reading and Taunton and Sindon and Chippenham.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Severe delays on the M1

Thursday 28 March 2024 11:21 , Athena Stavrou

There are reports of severe delays on the M1 northbound between junctions J25 and J27.

According to AA, motorists are facing delays of 44 minutes with an average speed of five mph.

It is expected to clear later this morning.

Chaos on Great Western Railway

Thursday 28 March 2024 10:39 , Simon Calder

On one of the busiest days of the year for rail travel, flooding is causing chaos on the Great Western Railway between London Paddington, southwest England, Bristol and South Wales.

The line between Reading and Taunton is partially blocked with disruption expected until the rest of the day. GWR said: “We are sorry for the delay to your journey today. Flooding on the railway between Reading and Taunton has resulted in some signal failures along this route. Network Rail are working to rectify the faults. This means that our high speed services between Reading and Taunton have to run at reduced speeds through the affected areas. The line towards Taunton is now blocked due to further flooding.

“Our high speed services from London Paddington towards Devon and Cornwall will be diverted between Reading and Taunton which will add delay to your journey.”

Unfortunately the main diversion route is also experiencing problems. High-speed trains heading west from Swindon in Wiltshire to Bristol and Cardiff are having to reduce their speed from 125mph to just 5mph as a result of flooding on the line.

“Trains may be delayed by up to 30 minutes, cancelled or diverted as a result,” says National Rail.

Easter travel chaos: how bad will it be?

Thursday 28 March 2024 10:09 , Athena Stavrou

The great Easter getaway could see travellers caught up in delays by road, ferry, rail and air.

In a normal year there would be a gap between most schools breaking up and the long weekend. But with Easter falling so early the two are combined.

My colleague Simon Calder has explained the Easter travel situation and how bad it might be:

Windy weather in Cornwall as millions head off on getaways

Thursday 28 March 2024 10:07 , Athena Stavrou

Around 14 million Britons are due to hit the road today as many head off on their Easter getaways.

Many will be heading for staycations in popular UK holiday spots such as Devon and Cornwall. However, pictures from Cornwall this morning show some windy and gloomy conditions.

The Met Office has issued a weather warning for wind today in some parts of the south of England and showers are expected throughout the weekend.

 (Matt Keeble/PA Wire)
(Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

Welcome to our liveblog

Thursday 28 March 2024 09:41 , Athena Stavrou

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog on the Easter bank holiday traffic.

Huge delays are expected on the roads this afternoon as many head off on their weekend getaways.

Rail passengers have also been affected by cancellations and engineering works.

We’ll be bringing you the latest news as it happens.

14 million to hit the road this Easter bank holiday weekend

Thursday 28 March 2024 09:25 , Athena Stavrou

Drivers have been warned of huge traffic delays as millions of people are set to hit the road this bank holiday weekend.

The RAC warned journeys on the road could take up to twice as long as usual as 14 million people are expected to set off.

“With Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays, it could be carmageddon for holidaymakers,” an RAC breakdown spokesperson said.

Journeys on the M25 between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire are expected to take more than two hours, while the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton is also likely to be congested.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Warning over Easter ‘carmageddon’ traffic chaos – which day will see the worst traffic?

Thursday 28 March 2024 22:03 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Drivers are being warned of chaos on roads over the Easter weekend, with as many as 18.5 million car trips planned at the start of school holidays.

Those setting out on their journeys are likely to encounter delays from Thursday 28 March, when children break up at the end of term, into Good Friday, with one specialist warning that it could be “carmageddon” for those making their getaways.

The overall travel picture should not be as bad as in 2023, when the Easter weekend coincided with strikes that led to the cancellation and delays of dozens of flights and widespread rail engineering work.

These are the worst days for Easter traffic after ‘carmageddon’ warning