Is your journey really necessary this weekend? Rail travellers on the two main north-south routes face severe disruption over the bank holiday.
On the flagship East Coast main line linking London with Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, passengers have been urged not to travel over long weekend.
Network Rail is using the three-day break for a project at the southern terminus, King’s Cross.
“A multi-million pound investment into the infrastructure at King’s Cross railway station will transform train travel on the East Coast Main Line by replacing track, signalling and overhead line equipment outside the station,” says the organisation.
The station, one of Britain’s 10 busiest, also serves Cambridge, King’s Lynn and Lincoln.
It will be closed completely on Saturday and Sunday, and remain partially closed on Monday with a reduced service.
Network Rail says: “The track layout has reached the end of its design life and become harder to maintain. While the station itself was modernised in 2012, the existing track and signalling was installed over 40 years ago and is in need of upgrading.
“At the same time, we will also be opening two new lines by re-opening a disused tunnel on the approach to King’s Cross; increasing the approach from four tracks to six.”
King’s Cross is the main focus of the now-traditional closure of key lines over the last weekend of August – but across at London Euston, traveller on the West Coast main line also face sharply reduced services.
In the Milton Keynes area, two of the four tracks will be closed until lunchtime on Monday, cutting the capacity and speed of Europe’s busiest inter-city rail line.
On most routes to Birmingham, Manchester and beyond, trains will be reduced to one per hour. The London-Chester service is not running, and the Holyhead service will run only northwest from Crewe.
Yet the West Coast main line is likely to be significantly busier than usual because many passengers are expected to switch from the East Coast main line to Virgin Trains.
“Virgin Trains strongly recommend that customers planning to travel make a reservation,” says the operator.
To make matters worse on Sunday, a strike by members of the RMT union working for CrossCountry will trigger cancellations. Many of the north-south services would otherwise be carrying passengers displaced by the planned closures.
CrossCountry said: “The industrial action coincides with extensive planned engineering works by Network Rail, which will significantly reduce the overall number of trains operating on large parts of the network.
“Given the very limited level of service available on the East Coast lines, customers wishing to travel between Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland are asked not to travel on Sunday and use your ticket to travel on a CrossCountry service on another date.”
Some smaller projects will disrupt rail travel. Just outside Newark, the East Coast main line is crossed by the Lincoln-Nottingham line, a cause of frequent delays.
The current flat crossing is being replaced by a grade-separated intersection.
The line between Redhill in Surrey and Tonbridge in Kent will be closed through the weekend, with a bus replacement service.
On the roads, the RAC predicts congestion will be worst between 10.30am and 2pm on Saturday, and advises motorists to delay journeys until after 4pm.
Forecast congestion will be worst on the M6 between junctions 22 (for Warrington) and 26 (for Liverpool), and the southeast quadrant of the M25 between Dartford and Bromley.
Sunday’s peak traffic is predicted for 12.30-2pm, with the southwest sector of the M25 from the Gatwick turn-off to the M40 expected to be slow, as well as the A303 through Wiltshire.
On bank holiday Monday, driver are urged to complete their journeys by 11am or delay them until after 6pm.