What you need to know about May bank holiday travel disruption

From train delays and a Heathrow strike to the road traffic, here's a guide to all the travel disruption you can expect this bank holiday weekend.

Slough, UK. 29th April, 2024. It was a busy morning on the M4 East Bound in Slough, Berkshire. The speed limit was down to 40mph following an earlier accident. Motorways are expected to be very busy on Friday ahead of the Bank Holiday Weekend. Credit: Maureen McLean/Alamy Live News
More than 16 million car journeys will be made this bank holiday weekend. (Alamy)

A "crescendo of cars" is expected on UK roads this early May bank holiday weekend as more than 16 million drivers are expected to travel.

The RAC said this Saturday will be the worst day of the long weekend for traffic, estimating that 3.3 million journeys will be made.

Away from motorways, there will also be bank holiday disruption to the UK's rail network and at its busiest airport because of strike action.

Yahoo News UK explains what you need to know ahead of your planned bank holiday weekend getaway.

The next bank holiday will be on Monday 6 May.

You can find a list of all upcoming bank holidays across the UK here.

The RAC said on Monday that more than 16 million drivers will take to the UK's road network over the four days of the bank holiday weekend.

The busiest day for traffic will be Saturday, when 3.3 million journeys are expected, with drivers told the worst times to travel are between 9am and 2pm.

An estimated 2.6 million leisure trips by car will be made on Friday at the beginning of the weekend getaway, with the RAC saying that 11am to 6pm is the worst time to travel.

Bristol, UK. 29th Mar, 2024. Easter holiday causes traffic congestion on the M5 between junctions 15/16 and 17. Managed motorway speed restrictions are in place due to the volume of traffic heading south towards Devon and Cornwall. Highways England reports speeds in the low 20's. Credit: JMF News/Alamy Live News
Delays are expected on the M5 motorway this bank holiday weekend. (Alamy)

A further 2.3 million trips will be made on Sunday and another 2.6 million on the bank holiday Monday itself. The times to avoid for both days are 10am to 3pm, the RAC said.

Friday will be the worst day for long delays, with journeys on major routes predicted to take 13% longer than normal.

The busiest road in the UK will be the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton where travel is expected to take almost two hours longer than usual.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson said: “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."

There was mixed news for travellers on Monday hoping to use Heathrow Airport for their bank holiday getaway.

Border Force workers at the airport in west London launched a four-day strike in a dispute over working conditions.

However, a planned strike over the bank holiday weekend by workers who refuel aircraft at the airport was averted after they accepted a new pay and conditions offer.

Border Force staff mounted a picket line at the beginning of their strike at 5am on Monday, which will continue until 7am on Friday.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union on the picket line at Heathrow Airport as more than 300 of PCS members are taking part in industrial action after launching a four-day strike in a dispute over working conditions. Picture date: Monday April 29, 2024.
Border Force members of the Public and Commercial Services Union on the picket line at Heathrow Airport on Monday. (PA)

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said more than 300 of its members will take part in the industrial action.

The workers, based at Heathrow’s Terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5, are protesting against plans to introduce new rosters they claim will see around 250 of them forced out of their jobs at passport control.

However, the strike by 50 refuelling staff was called off, providing some relief for travellers.

The members of Unite employed by Aviation Fuel Services (AFS) had planned to strike for 72 hours from Saturday.

The union said that after negotiations, AFS agreed to improve the pension and sick leave offered to new workers to bring them closer in line with existing staff.

People planning their bank holiday getaway by train are advised to check their journeys don't clash with rail strikes by drivers that are expected to bring severe disruption.

Drivers represented by the Aslef union who work at 16 train companies will strike for 24 hours on three consecutive dates between Tuesday 7 and Thursday 9 May, and there will be an overtime ban on all train companies from bank holiday Monday to Saturday 11 May.

The union said its members have not had pay rise for five years.

Windsor, Berkshire, UK. 29th April, 2024. A customer notice at Windsor & Eton Riverside station in Windsor, Berkshire advising customers about forthcoming Industrial Action between 6th-11th May 2024. Credit: Maureen McLean/Alamy Live News
A notice warning commuters about train drivers striking next week. (Alamy)

Some parts of the country will have no services on strike days, while those that do run will start later and finish earlier than usual.

The following lines will be affected by strikes next week:

– Tuesday 7 May: c2c, Greater Anglia, GTR’s Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern (including Gatwick Express), Southeastern, and South Western Railway.

– Wednesday 8 May: Avanti West Coast, London Northwestern Railway, Chiltern, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, GWR, and West Midlands Trains.

– Thursday 9 May: LNER, Northern, and TransPennine Express.