Rail passengers at major London train stations were forced to cram onto overcrowded trains during the Easter Bank Holiday getaway after closures at Euston station sparked havoc.
It comes as holidaymakers faced queues of up to 90 minutes at Dover to board ferries, with airports and roads also busy with travellers making the most of the long weekend.
Marylebone and St Pancras stations were overcrowded with passengers, who were trying to make their way North on Friday, with Euston station closed because of engineering works. Some travellers also claimed that passengers had fainted on packed trains.
No trains will be running from Euston from Good Friday until Easter Monday. Network Rail has advised passengers to use alternative routes from St Pancras to start their journeys North or use rail replacement buses.
Elizabeth line services will also be disrupted on all four days of the bank holiday weekend, with no service between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
Frustrated customers complained of overcrowded trains. “It’s an absolute travesty”, one woman said, posting a picture of heaving crowds packed outside the ticket gates. Passengers who were able to make their trains said that they were “stuffed on trains like cattle to a slaughter.”
East Midlands Railway said it was experiencing overcrowding and thanked customers for their patience.
Peter Hicks, who works for the rail updates website OpenTrainTimes, was on his way to Sheffield from St Pancras when he found himself caught up in the chaos.
He told i: “There were works planned for months in advance which were communicated within the industry, so a better response than ‘crowd control’ could have been put in place. Passenger experience is poor and this is possibly one of the easier things to improve in the rail industry.”
They added that better messaging and signage could have been deployed, as it was a “free for all.”
However, Mr Hicks added that the mood was “very British, with an acceptance that these things happen and not too many audible complaints.”
At the ferry port at Dover, customers were facing waiting times of 90 minutes throughout much of Friday. However, Port of Dover officials have so far managed to avoid a repeat of last weekend’s hours-long queues with better organisation.
P&O ferries said there would be waiting times of 60 to 90 minutes on Friday afternoon and that roads coming in and out of the port would be “extremely busy.” Irish Ferries advised people to arrive three hours before boarding.
Similar waiting times are expected throughout the rest of the Bank Holiday.
Travellers planning getaways for the long weekend were told to prepare for several hours of delays and advised to bring food and water during long waiting times.
The Port of Dover and ferry companies all said they had made contingency plans to steer clear of events from the previous weekend, when thousands of travelers – including coaches full of school children – were left stranded in their vehicles. Passengers told i that had waited for as long as 36 hours and were “exhausted and starving” after waiting more than 30 hours at the port.
Gary Walker, an IT worker, told i on Friday that he and his wife had arrived close to their departure time following advice from P&O ferries but were likely to miss their boat.
“Things are moving but extremely slowly. We received a text from P&O advising us not to arrive at the port early, but we can see that the traffic is really starting to build up,” Mr Walker said.
“We have been waiting for an hour and a half. There’s five lanes of traffic on either side of us and probably about 500 or 600 cars. It looks like the queue for lorries is stretching for about 10 miles.”
Mr Walker said although he and his wife missed their booked ferry, they were able to board the next one without hassle, adding that it “pays to be an hour early.”
There have been no signs of serious disruption at airports either on Friday although strikes by air traffic control workers in France could still cause delays or cancellations throughout the rest of the Bank Holiday.
Strikes in France, Portugal, Britain and Germany are expected to cause air travel disruption in parts of Europe throughout the Easter holidays. “There will be delays. There’s no doubt about it,” Steven Moore, who is in charge of air traffic management operations at Eurocontrol, previous;y told Reuters.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary last week complained of strikes by air control workers in France causing the cancellation of 200 flights.
On the roads, up to 17 million drivers are expected to travel between Good Friday and Easter Monday, with warnings of jams in south-west England and the Home Counties on Friday.
Traffic on the A303 westbound near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the M5 south between Bristol and Bridgwater, and the M25 anticlockwise between Hertfordshire and Surrey, was tipped to more than double.