UK

Easter Getaway Off To Difficult Start As Motorways Clog Up Due To Eurostar Trouble

17/04/2014 20:03 BST | Updated 17/04/2014 20:59 BST
Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Britain's big Easter getaway got off to a difficult start on Thursday as motorways in the south east clogged up following, problems with Channel Tunnel trains.

Two separate incidents contributed to long hold-ups on coast-bound roads in Kent, with delays on the M2, M20 M25 and A20.

They also led to hours-long delays to those taking Folkestone-Calais shuttle trains and high-speed Eurostar services between London and Paris and Brussels via the tunnel.

The first problem came earlier on Thursday when a fatality near Lille in northern France involving a French high-speed train resulted in diversions and delays to Eurostar trains.

Then, just as Eurostar services were getting back to normal, a Eurotunnel passenger shuttle train broke down in the tunnel leading to further delays to Eurostar services and long hold-ups of up to four hours for shuttle-train passengers.

Eurostar has had to cancel six trains - two from London to Paris, two from Paris to London, one from London to Brussels and one from Brussels to London.

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The trouble came as millions of Britons took to the roads at the start of the holiday, with the weekend predicted to see as many as 16 million cars on the move.

Around 3.4 million Britons are set to take an Easter break in the UK involving at least one overnight stay.

In addition, around 6.5 million Britons are planning day trips over the holiday period.

For those staying at home, Good Friday is expected to be the best day of the holiday for weather, with cooler, cloudier and rainier conditions due as the weekend goes on.

An estimated 1.6 million Britons are heading abroad for the holiday, with Spain and its islands, Turkey, Tunisia and Florida, among the most-popular destinations.

Engineering work on the railways will affect services to and from a number of major hubs over Easter, including London's Charing Cross, London Bridge, Paddington and King's Cross stations.

Southampton Central and Sheffield are among other major stations where services will be affected over the weekend.

Rail industry body the Railway Delivery Group said work was planned carefully to ensure the vast majority of passengers are not disrupted.

The group added that this Easter would see 20% fewer bus replacement services needed than last Easter.