Crippling rail strikes and 'amber traffic warning' threaten this weekend's summer getaways

30 July 2022, 08:14 | Updated: 30 July 2022, 10:12

The AA put its first "amber traffic warning" in place on Friday and for Saturday between 11am and 3pm, and train drivers from union Aslef are going on strike at seven operators.
The AA put its first "amber traffic warning" in place on Friday and for Saturday between 11am and 3pm, and train drivers from union Aslef are going on strike at seven operators. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Summer getaway plans could be thrown into chaos this weekend as further train strikes are set to grind the country to a halt and an "amber traffic warning" is in place in the south west.

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The Aslef union says train drivers at seven operators will walk out on Saturday over pay, coinciding with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the start of the new season for most English football league clubs.

There will be severe disruption to parts of the rail network on Saturday and into the morning of Sunday, the rail delivery group warned.

The strike is hitting Arriva Rail London, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.

Elsewhere, the AA is warning there could be severe congestion on major roads between 11am and 3pm today - with the south west of England set to be particularly vulnerable.

Read more: Summer of train strikes to get worse as militant drivers union votes for further walkout

Several major roads throughout the UK were hit by congestion on Friday, due to a combination of the first switchover days for holiday lets during the school summer holidays in England and Wales, a rail strike, the Commonwealth Games, and the start of the Football League.

Most of the M25 was congested while the M5 heading south-west was seeing start-stop traffic.

Vehicles queue on the M5 near Portbury, Bristol, as families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays.
Vehicles queue on the M5 near Portbury, Bristol, as families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays. Picture: Alamy

Jams were also slow-moving on the westbound sections of the M4 towards Bristol, the M55/M6 interchange near Preston, Lancashire, the M42 east of Birmingham, the M60 and the M62 in Manchester and the A64 into York.

However, in Dover and Folkstone, the operation was much smoother on Friday, with P&O Ferries saying there were "no queues at border controls and traffic is free-flowing through the port".

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said that French border controls will be "fully resourced", which will make a "fundamental difference".

The port expects to welcome about 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday.

In a joint statement on Friday, Phil Douglas, director general of Border Force and Brigitte Lafourcade, deputy director general at Police Aux Frontieres said Britain and France are "working closely" to support the smooth flow of traffic.

It comes after tens of thousands of families saw their cross-Channel journeys ruined last weekend by gridlocked traffic and delays of several hours, blamed on a shortage of French border officers.

Mr Douglas and Ms Lafourcade said: "France and the UK have been working closely together over recent days to prepare for the management of our shared border through the current period of increased passenger traffic.

"Both Police Aux Frontieres and UK Border Force, in partnership with the port operators, have put plans in place at the juxtaposed controls on both sides of the Channel this weekend to maximise passenger flows.

"France and the UK will continue to work together intensively to support fluidity of freight and passengers across the Channel through the summer period and beyond."