'Bad Friday' sees Brits brace for travel chaos as holidaymakers face more Dover delays and gridlocked motorways

7 April 2023, 08:41

Brits have been warned about Easter getaway chaos
Brits have been warned about Easter getaway chaos. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Passengers face travel chaos on all fronts on what has been described as 'Bad Friday', with some 17 million trips expected over Easter weekend.

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The Easter getaway is set against a backdrop of French protests, coupled with ongoing disruption at Dover - which could cause stress for those hoping to go abroad over the long weekend.

With people heading away from the cities, the worst congestion is expected to be on major roads in the South West and Home Counties.

Engineering work on some of the railways is also taking place, with Network Rail carrying out a major project on the West Coast Main Line, meaning no services will run between London Euston and Milton Keynes Central.

Heavy traffic leading up to the Port of Dover, as well as delays as French border control, caused chaos last weekend, as families went away for the first part of their Easter break.

The Port of Dover said that they would be conducting a "full review" of plans to improve their approach ahead of the Bank Holiday.

But travellers have been warned to expect at least a two-hour wait if they are heading to the Port on Friday.

Read more: Thousands of holidaymakers face disruption as Dover aims to reschedule coach times around Good Friday

Works will also stop services through Carstairs Junction to and from Edinburgh Waverley or Glasgow Central on the West Coast Main Line, while the line between Oxford and Didcot Parkway will stay shut.

There will also be a number of platforms out of action at London Victoria, while work will stop services running out of Charing Cross on Saturday and Sunday.

But the disruption is not limited to domestic travel.

Traffic has been backed up at the Port of Dover in recent days
Traffic has been backed up at the Port of Dover in recent days. Picture: Alamy

It was thought some flights were due to be cancelled on due to air traffic control walk-outs, as part of a general strike, with other flight routes extended to deal with the protest's disruption.

A British Airways spokesperson said: "Due to the continued French air-traffic control industrial action we've been forced to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule. We're sorry for the disruption to our customers' travel plans.

"We've contacted affected customers to inform them of their rights and offer them options including a full refund or rebooking onto an alternative flight."

Read more: Brits warned of Easter Bank Holiday travel chaos as ‘significant’ contingency plans put in place after Dover delays

An easyJet spokesperson said: "Due to national strike action in France impacting transport services including air traffic control on 6 April, airlines have been requested by the French authorities to make some cancellations to their flying programmes which means two return flights between Toulouse and Bristol as well as Gatwick and Bordeaux will no longer be able to operate.

"Impacted customers have been notified in advance and offered the option to change their flight for free or receive a refund."

French border checks have been blamed for disruption
French border checks have been blamed for disruption. Picture: Alamy

French protesters stopped traffic about a mile from Charles de Gaulle airport, near Paris, forcing passengers to get out and walk to their terminal.

A police spokesperson said: "[People] are getting out of taxis and cars and trying to get to the terminals on foot."

The protests are part of the ongoing backlash against Emmanuel Macron's attempt to raise the pension age from 62 to 64.

The Port of Dover has been the epicentre of travel disruption, with last weekend seeing queues last 14 hours amid a high volume of coach traffic.

Officials there blamed French passport control for taking longer to process travellers. Brexit has also been blamed by critics.

The port is hoping ferry operators will help by spreading coach traffic across Thursday, Friday and Saturday to avoid long delays that infuriated people heading for a getaway into Europe via France.

Queues for passport checks are taking up to an hour, ferry operator DFDS said on Twitter.

Passengers were forced to walk the last mile to Charles de Gaulle airport amid strikes in France
Passengers were forced to walk the last mile to Charles de Gaulle airport amid strikes in France. Picture: Alamy

"Unfortunately due to high volumes of traffic there are queues at border controls," it said.

"Once you arrive at check-in we will get you away as quick as we can."

One passenger wrote at 9.25am: "We have been standing for 50 minutes. No movement whatsoever."

An early morning Eurostar train between Paris and London was scrapped, as was the return service, after the rail operator said the disruption could leave with a shortage of crew members.