Getaway chaos begins: Traffic jams build as airports pack out and train strikes bring summer rush to standstill

22 July 2023, 14:39

Getaway chaos has begun
Getaway chaos has begun. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Brits are facing travel chaos as they begin their summer holiday getaways.

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Around two million people are believed to be heading off on an overseas holiday on Saturday, despite major price hikes in some of Europe's most popular locations.

Delays on the M25 continued into the early hours of Saturday following a crash near the Dartford crossing on Friday.

Some 12.6 million car journeys are expected to be made over the weekend as families head on days out and staycations, the RAC said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers are rushing abroad now the summer holidays are underway.

Heathrow and Gatwick airport are expected to see the highest number of people departing, with a further 200,000 leaving from Manchester and 71,000 from Bristol.

Traffic on the M25
Traffic on the M25. Picture: Getty

The Port of Dover said it was taking about 90 minutes for departing passengers to pass through border checks.

It said traffic was moving "according to plan" at the English Channel port in Kent, with 15,901 passengers setting sail for France by 10am on Saturday.

A spokesman said: "If you miss your ferry, don't worry, you'll be on the next available sailing."

P&O Ferries also updated passengers of Border Control queues and urged them to allow extra time to clear security checks.

Read more: 2.5 hour queue warning at Dover as school summer holiday getaways begin, with 12.6 million trips expected this weekend

Read more: Summer holiday washout: Torrential downpours set to batter UK as month's worth of rain to fall in 48 hours

Dover queues are backed up
Dover queues are backed up. Picture: Getty

The summer getaway comes as a walkout by thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) disrupted services, with some areas having no trains all day.

The dispute over pay, jobs and conditions remains deadlocked after more than a year of industrial action.

An overtime ban by the drivers' union Aslef also hit services on Saturday.

With reduced services at 14 train companies where the RMT is striking, National Rail warned passengers that the "last trains during industrial action may be earlier than you think, with busier services and stations."

Passengers were urged to plan their journeys in advance and to check with train operators before travelling.

Rail workers are striking
Rail workers are striking. Picture: Alamy

Despite the buzz around the holidays beginning, weather conditions are set to remain unsettled across the weekend with heavy rain to come, according to the Met Office.

It will feel "disappointingly cool for most" with temperatures around 13C.

It comes after Friday's highest and lowest temperatures were 22.6C in Frittenden in Kent and 1.6C at Tulloch Bridge in the Scottish Highlands.

After a cloudy start to Saturday, the northern half of Scotland could stay drier with sunny spells and a few showers, while it could become increasingly windy in southern England and Wales, the forecaster said.

In an effort to help families travel more easily, children aged 10 and over will be able to enter the UK using eGates across 15 air and rail ports from Monday, the Home Office said.

With passenger volumes expected to return to 2019 levels this summer - and some ports exceeding those volumes - Border Force expects to see more than 34 million air arrivals coming through UK passport control over the coming months.

More than 400,000 children aged 10 and 11 are projected to use eGates this year.