Manchester travel Easter bank holiday weekend: best & worst times for motorways, trains, buses & airport

Some parts of Greater Manchester have been flagged as predicted congestion hotspots on the motorways this Easter bank holiday weekend while bus and train services are reduced - here is where and when to avoid.

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If you are heading off on a road trip this Easter, you’re far from alone - with a predicted 21m journeys being made on the highways over the bank holiday weekend.

Motoring organisation the RAC reckons it will be the busiest Easter travel period for nearly a decade, with travel restrictions around Covid now lifted and people keen for a UK-based staycation.

The RAC predicts the busiest day will be Good Friday (15 April) and traffic analytics firm Inrix has flagged the M6 north between Junction 26 (Orrell Interchange) and Junction 36 (the Lake District) as a predicted congestion hotspot, as many folk head north for the Lakes.

To avoid Easter jams, they recommend motorists start their trips before 9am or wait until until after 7.30pm.

There are also a number of planned road closures to avoid this week: see here.

Planned railworks on key lines also mean more people are expected to take to the roads - with Transpennine and Avanti among those issuing warnings about Easter travel already, and Manchester City fans facing long and complicated journeys to get to the FA Cup Wembley semi-final thanks to railworks.

Avanti West Coast mainline is to undergo railworks Credit: Avanti West Coast  Avanti West Coast mainline is to undergo railworks Credit: Avanti West Coast
Avanti West Coast mainline is to undergo railworks Credit: Avanti West Coast

Why are the roads expected to be so busy?

Rod Dennis, RAC traffic spokesman, said: “After two years of relatively quiet Easter bank holidays on the roads, our research suggests a return to traffic levels that are much more typical of this time of year.

“It’s very possible this weekend could turn out to be one of the busiest for leisure journeys for many years.

“Add in the impact of disruption on the rail network and one of the biggest fixtures of the sporting calendar taking place this weekend, and you have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads.

“Traffic volumes will likely be even higher if some warm spring sunshine makes an appearance.”

Mr Dennis urged drivers to check tyres, coolant and oil ahead of travel to minimise breakdowns.

What about trains and railway journeys at Easter?

There will be more than 500 railway projects being carried out by engineers this Easter.

The West Coast Main Line will be closed between London Euston and Milton Keynes for work between Good Friday and Easter Monday - affecting Avanti train links between Manchester and London.

Transpennine Express has also asked people to avoid travelling on Easter Sunday with the next in a series of TPE workers’ rail strikes planned.

You should check your journey in advance at National Rail.

Is there a different bus timetable at Easter? What about trams?

Yes, you should check with your operator before you head off. Stagecoach and First NW buses are running a Sunday timetable on Good Friday and Easter Monday, for example, which will mean fewer services than on normal weekdays in Greater Manchester.

Meanwhile TFGM says trams will run at 12-minute intervals on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and Monday: you can check times here.

Manchester Airport has been busy this Easter Manchester Airport has been busy this Easter
Manchester Airport has been busy this Easter

What about Manchester Airport at Easter?

There have been ongoing issues with queues and delays at Manchester Airport since mid-March and the Easter weekend is expected to be busy again with travellers flying in and out: for the latest updates and advice, see our daily report here. Passengers have been reporting that the airport has been quieter generally in mid-week with fewer queues than days around the weekends.

Meanwhile, those catching the ferry to France from Kent have been warned that traffic queues are likely to continue in Kent - though it is hoped suspended P&O services will resume this week.