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Drivers facing ‘nearly double’ journey times in heavy Easter holiday traffic

Drivers are facing “nearly double” journey times in some areas as heavy traffic impacts holidaymakers returning home after the long weekend.

Around two million leisure trips by road will be made on bank holiday Monday, according to the RAC and transport analysis company Inrix.

Heavy rain showers with potential hail and thunder may cause further disruption for those travelling on Easter Monday, the Met Office has warned.

The M5 northbound in particular has experienced high levels of congestion, with drivers experiencing delays throughout the 50-mile stretch between Wellington and Bristol.

RAC breakdown spokesman, Simon Williams, said this has likely been caused by holidaymakers who visited Devon and Cornwall for Easter weekend and are returning home.

Mr Williams said: “Driving from Wellington to Bristol is going to be slow.

“It usually takes about 45 minutes but it’s probably going to take nearly double that.”

The RAC advised that between 10am and 12pm was the worst and busiest time to travel via road, while after 8pm is the best time to drive on bank holiday Monday.

On the M25 near Sevenoaks, there were queues of up to six miles caused by a car that caught fire in the morning, as well as long delays near the Dartford tunnel.

The A52 in Leicestershire and the A47 in Norfolk were closed in both directions around Monday lunchtime following serious collisions.

National Highways reported congestion causing “severe” delays of up to 40 minutes on the M6 southbound and northbound and the M5 northbound in the afternoon.

Elsewhere, more vehicle fires held up drivers on the M6 and A5 throughout Monday, something that Mr Williams said was “unusual” in one day.

Significant congestion was reported on the M25 clockwise near Heathrow airport in the afternoon due to heavy traffic and a stalled vehicle.

Mr Williams said: “Obviously for those coming back later today, the weather conditions could make things even more challenging.

“Leaving later can sometimes save you time because fewer people travel later, but if the weather is bad it could be a long journey and difficult driving.”

Cars travelling in the rain on the M5 motorway
The M5 northbound in particular has experienced high levels of congestion (Ben Birchall/PA)

Met Office forecaster, Greg Dewhurst, said drivers should take “extra care” during heavy downpours with regard to surface spray on the roads and drivers slowing down, particularly those travelling in central and southern parts of the UK.

Those travelling by rail in Wales also experienced disruption, with passengers warned not to travel between Cardiff and Carmarthen on the South Wales Mainline due to signalling and power issues on Monday morning.

The Heart of Wales line between Swansea and Shrewsbury and services on several other lines in south Wales were also affected.

For those holidaymakers heading abroad, the UK’s airports are also expected to be busy with Manchester airport expecting this year to be its “busiest Easter on record” with 8% more travellers than in 2023.

Around 1.4 million passengers are expected to pass through Stansted airport and 900,000 at Luton over the two-week school holiday period.