Travel chaos for holidaymakers returning home on Easter Monday

Easter Monday brought travel chaos for millions of people as those returning home from the long weekend were met with traffic jams and train cancellations.

An estimated two million holidaymakers were making return journeys on bank holiday Monday, with many delaying their travel plans until the afternoon to enjoy the final rays of sunshine before the April showers set in.

Before the Easter break, the RAC warned of “carmageddon” and said heavy traffic and long queues should be expected.

Queues of up to 20 miles built up along the M4 and M5 near Bristol on Friday, adding 45 minutes to journey times


Drivers returning from Devon and Cornwall faced lengthy queues along the M5 as traffic slowed to 16mph, while rail travellers’ plans were disrupted with at least three Network Rail lines closed due to planned engineering work.

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, said: “The weather has been half decent this afternoon, so people will leave it [later] to come back, increasing chances of disruption, and the conditions will make driving challenging.”

VisitEngland, the tourist board, said about 11 million people in the UK were planning an overnight Easter trip, generating an estimated £3.2 billion for the economy.

About 14 million trips by road were estimated to have been made over the weekend, a survey by the RAC and the transport analysis company Inrix suggested.

On Friday, queues of up to 20 miles built up along the M4 and M5 near Bristol, which added 45 minutes to journey times. Tourists at the Port of Dover faced a wait of two hours to be let through.

On Sunday, passengers flying home from Portugal claim they were stuck in queues for three hours or more after electronic gates failed to work properly.

Faro airport, in the Algarve, had a shortage of staff and technical problems with the gates, which some airports have brought in to replace border control workers.

Jess Booker was returning to the UK from Faro after spending 11 days in Portugal. She told The Times that the delays were “down to a lack of staff, the automatic gates not working and a high number of UK flights arriving at the same time”. She said that although she managed to make it on to her flight back to London, other people were stranded in queues and missed their flights.

Electronic gate problems caused a “farce” at Faro airport on Sunday

Electronic gate problems caused a “farce” at Faro airport on Sunday


Another passenger, Mark Tate, said he had missed two work meetings as a result of the “farce at the airport”. He was travelling to Portugal to visit fruit suppliers and said it took two hours to get through passport control on arrival.

Faro airport was contacted for comment.

Trains were cancelled from London Euston to Milton Keynes from Friday to Monday. Bus replacement services were also in place for journeys from London Liverpool Street to Colchester. The Elizabeth Line between London Paddington and Stratford was shut.

On Monday, some of the toughest travel delays were in Wales, where a serious crash on the A40 and planned engineering works delayed many on both roads and rail.

Transport for Wales issued a “do not travel” warning for trains on the south Wales main line until Monday afternoon.

“Due to signalling and power issues between Bridgend and Llanelli, Transport for Wales is unable to run services between Cardiff and Carmarthen and on the Heart of Wales line between Swansea and Shrewsbury,” Transport for Wales said, adding that services on the Maesteg line were also affected.

It said “extremely limited replacement road transport” was available.

In west Wales, the A40 remained closed until Monday afternoon after a serious crash in the early hours near Carmarthen.

The Met Office also warned travellers to expect heavy downpours on Monday evening, with 5mm of rain forecast. The Environment Agency issued 13 flood warnings, where flooding is expected, and 125 flood alerts, where flooding is possible.

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