More than 15 million “leisure” car journeys are expected to be made over the spring bank holiday weekend, while rail engineering works also take place.
Roads are expected to be busiest on Friday between 13:00 and 20:00 BST.
The RAC was expecting the busiest late May bank holiday on the roads in four years with “bumper-to-bumper” congestion.
And traffic information company Inrix warned some journeys could take up to four times longer.
Rail passengers are also being warned of disruption due to engineering works between Saturday and Monday.
Highways England said it would complete or suspend more than 300 miles worth of roadworks by 06:00 on Friday to help ease congestion. Some will have to stay in place because it would be unsafe to remove them.
Experts have predicted different traffic hotspots.
Inrix believes the busiest road will be the 35 miles of the M25 between Caterham (Junction 7) and Fulmer (Junction 16). It says drivers can expect a normal 30 minute journey to take up to two hours and 50 minutes, with peak traffic expected about 10:30 and 16:45.
The RAC says it anticipates congestion at:
• M5 Almondsbury Interchange and from Bristol to Taunton
• A303 Andover to Ilminster
• A30 and A38 Exeter to Cornwall
• M4 between Cardiff and Swansea
• M25 between Gatwick and M1
• A23/M23 to Brighton
• A34 and M3 south and south west to the south coast
• A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth
• A11 Thetford to Norwich
• M55 between Preston and Blackpool
• A14 between the Midlands and the east coast
• A590/A591 between the M6 and the Lake District
• A66 between M6 and the coast
• M53 between Liverpool and Chester
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “While we’re expecting leisure journeys to reach a peak on bank holiday Monday – families setting off for a half term trip or taking a day trip to the coast – drivers should be warned that the roads are likely to see significant congestion on Friday as getaway traffic and everyday commuter traffic combines. We’re expecting it to be bumper-to-bumper from Friday lunchtime onwards on some of the country’s most popular routes.
“We expect the vast majority of roadworks on motorways and major A-roads to be either put on hold or completed in time for the weekend which is good news for drivers but sometimes it only takes a single incident for delays to develop on parts of the road network that are prone to congestion.”
Inrix said the peak time for the roads to be busiest will be between 15:00 and 17:00 on Friday, although the RAC expects the busy period to start at 13:00 and last until 20:00.
|Bank Holiday – When the roads will be busiest|
|Friday 26 May||Between 13:00 and 20:00 BST|
|Saturday 27 May||Between 11:00 and 16:00 BST|
|Sunday 28 May||Between 11:00 and 16:00 BST|
|Monday 29 May||Between 13:00 and 18:00 BST|
Will there be roadworks?
Highways England, which manages the motorways and major A roads, said about 98% of the motorways and major A roads would be free of roadworks over the bank holiday.
That includes 35 miles worth of roadworks at seven locations along the M1 motorway between Rugby and Nottingham.
However 17 miles worth of work along the M1 between junctions 19 and 16, near Crick, will stay in place and so will about six miles worth between junctions 23a and 25, near Long Eaton.
There will also be 20 miles of roadworks left in place on the M6 between junctions 16 and 19, near Crewe.
A full list of roadworks remaining in place can be found here.
Will my train be running?
Replacement bus services will be used for some or all of the bank holiday weekend for services between:
- West Croydon, Sutton and Epsom Downs
- Leeds and York
- Swindon, Bath Spa and Bristol Parkway
- Portsmouth Harbour, Havant and Fareham
- Crewe and Liverpool Lime Street
- Surbiton and Effingham Junction
- Inverness and Keith
- Glasgow Central and Edinburgh via Carstairs
There will also be no trains at Rotherham Central on Saturday and Sunday and no trains to or from London Charing Cross from Saturday to Monday.
Network Rail said engineering work at Seven Kings and between Harold Wood and Shenfield would disrupt travel in and out of London’s Liverpool Street station.
Details are available at the National Rail Enquiries website.