Passenger numbers could be boosted because of expected or actual flight cancellations owing to the volcanic ash cloud. To cater for this demand Network Rail has lifted some planned improvement work on the West Coast Main Line to keep Anglo-Scottish services running.
Across the network as a whole, bank holidays tend to be quieter than a normal weekend but certain parts of the railways see an increase in passenger numbers.
Popular seaside towns such as Skegness and Scarborough often see a significant increase in passengers when compared to a normal weekend and there will be extra services laid on to Southend-on-Sea for the annual airshow.
Other events expected to attract significant numbers of people travelling by train this weekend are horse racing meetings taking place at Newmarket, Nottingham and Carlisle as well as one of the summer’s first music festivals in the north-east.
With over 3,700 (8%) more trains expected to run this May bank holiday than compared with the same period last year, the vast majority of people travelling by train this bank holiday will be unaffected by improvement works.
Engineers from Network Rail, the company that manages the track and signalling, will be working round the clock to lay new track, upgrade signalling, repair bridges and improve stations to help deliver a better railway for passengers.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies said: “Across the network as a whole, bank holidays tend to be quieter than normal on the railways. But with the start of the school half-term also coinciding with the bank holiday weekend, we’re still expecting millions of passengers to get out and about visiting friends and family, travel to festivals or head for the seaside.
“The vast majority of people taking the train should experience no disruption because of improvement works taking place. Millions of pounds are spent all year round by train companies and Network Rail to improve the network, to ensure that even more trains arrive on time and even more passengers are happy with their service.”
Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s director of operations and customer services said: “The railway is open for business this bank holiday. Working with train operators, Network Rail is doing everything it can to keep Britain moving.”