Bank holiday weekend travel warning as fine weather forecast for UK

By Rachel Hall

People seeking a bank holiday getaway in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being warned to avoid major roads before 7pm as holidaymakers look to take advantage of good late summer weather forecast for much of the UK.

The RAC estimates that 16.7m leisure trips are planned between Friday and Monday, with the south-west predicted to be especially packed.

Ticket sales for trains to seaside destinations over the bank holiday weekend have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, according to the industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). Demand is more than double compared with last year’s August bank holiday, and up 17% on the same weekend in 2019.

Travellers are keen to take advantage of warm, dry and sunny weather across most of the UK this weekend, with the highest temperatures and most sunshine in the west, according to Met Office predictions.

The transport analytics firm Inrix predicted a 25% increase in delays on roads on Friday compared with a typical August day, and advised that motorists set off in the morning or after 7pm to miss the worst traffic jams. Journey times on classic holiday routes such as the M5 and A303 are expected to more than double at certain times.

Rod Dennis, a spokesperson for RAC Breakdown, said: “It’s been an incredibly busy summer on the UK’s roads with vast numbers of people on the move both for staycation holidays and for day trips to the sea and countryside. Our figures suggest this is a trend that will continue, with bumper-to-bumper bank holiday traffic expected, especially on the most popular holiday routes.”

The consultancy WPI Economics said trains were especially popular among young people, with 1.03m journeys per week made using the 16-25 railcard, an increase of 49,000 since the beginning of June.

WPI estimated that passengers travelling to seaside destinations for leisure spend on average £116 per trip. This includes £40 on food and drink, £31 on accommodation, £23 on shopping, £13 on other travel and £10 on entertainment and culture.

However, commuting and business trips by rail are still well below pre-coronavirus levels, with the result that rail industry revenue is at 59% of what it was at this point in 2019.

The RDG said more than 95% of the rail network would be fully operational over the weekend. Owing to Network Rail engineering works, no trains will operate between London St Pancras International and Luton, while an amended timetable will be in place on routes to and from London Euston.

National Highways, recently rebranded from Highways England, said about 98% of England’s motorways and major A-roads would be free of roadworks over the weekend.