Good Friday could turn ‘bad’ on the roads as up to 17m Easter trips by car begin
KIRKLAND, Wash. – April 4, 2023 – Drivers are set to embark on up to 17m leisure trips by car this Easter bank holiday, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday set to see the largest number of journeys made leading to long delays in parts of the south and west of the UK, new figures suggest.*
Research by the RAC and data from transport analytics experts INRIX show there’s every chance Good Friday could turn out to be a ‘bad’ Friday for drivers this year. With an estimated 2.7m ‘getaway’ trips expected that day, major roads in the south west of England and through some of the home counties are most likely to experience the longest delays. The A303 westbound near Stonehenge, M5 south between Bristol and Bridgwater and M25 anticlockwise between Hertfordshire and Surrey are predicted to see more than twice the normal amount of traffic, with vehicle speeds reduced to just 12mph at some points in the day.
Easter Sunday is forecast to see a similar number of leisure journeys being made by drivers (2.7m), with Easter Saturday and Easter Monday only slightly less busy with 2.3m separate trips each. But it appears a large number of drivers are waiting to see what the great British weather has in store before deciding which day to jump in the car – with the potential for another 7m trips to be staggered throughout the long weekend.
And with planned engineering work on the railway, including the closure of London Euston station over the whole weekend, more people look certain to be forced onto the roads. The good news for drivers, if there is some, is that National Highways is temporarily lifting around 1,400 miles of roadworks from Thursday to help alleviate the queues. Knowing that just a single breakdown can cause traffic to grind to a halt, the RAC is recommending drivers make sure their vehicles are ‘road-ready’ before setting off.
Separate RAC research** found just one-in-five drivers (19%) routinely check their cars are ‘road-ready’ before making an Easter trip, increasing the potential for breakdowns to ruin the start of many people’s breaks. Half of drivers (51%) said they sometimes checked their cars over before setting out but an alarming 30% said they never do.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With many people keen to make the most of the double bank holiday this Easter weekend, we’re expecting the customary jams across parts of the road network to make this Good Friday a bad Friday for drivers, especially those who are planning on covering longer distances. Traffic volumes could be even higher if the sun chooses to make a welcome appearance.
“The south and west of the UK are the areas to watch as they’re home to some vital roads responsible for carrying vast numbers of people to the holiday destinations of the West Country – so our advice to anyone heading that way is to get on the road as early as possible on Good Friday, or travel on a different day entirely.
“Our patrols will be working incredibly hard over the whole Easter period, but many of the jobs they’ll attend could have been avoided if drivers had only given their cars a bit of TLC before setting out. No one wants a breakdown to get in the way of enjoying a well-earned break, so it’s a good idea to check tyres have plenty of tread and are properly inflated, and that oil, coolant and screenwash are all at the right levels under the bonnet. Following this advice can significantly reduce the chances of breaking down.
“At least it won’t cost quite as much to fill up the family car this Easter as it did last year, although there’s no getting away from the fact that drivers of diesel cars continue to get a really poor deal at the pumps. The average price of unleaded is currently £1.46 a litre, with diesel at £1.63 when it should really be around £1.52 based on the current wholesale price. This compares to £1.62 and £1.76 respectively this time last year, which means a tank of petrol is £9 cheaper and diesel £7 despite being unfairly overpriced at the moment.”
INRIX transportation analyst Bob Pishue said: “We expect a large jump in holiday driving with most congestion occurring on major roads around urban areas and popular destinations. Nationwide, we anticipate travel times during the holiday weekend to increase about 25% compared to normal. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
Top tips for a better trip this bank holiday – from teams at the RAC “Make sure you’ve got enough fuel in your vehicle to get to your destination. If you’re driving an electric car, plan in your charging stops before you set out and check any faults with chargers using an app like Zap-Map.” – RAC patrol, eastern England
“Keep any important medicine that you or your passengers need in the car with you, and carry some extra medication in case you break down and get delayed.” – RAC patrol, eastern England
“Check your level of breakdown cover matches the journeys you’ll be making. If you’re driving a long distance, have you got national recovery so you can get home again if your car lets you down?” – RAC customer service agent, West Midlands
“Keep your locking wheel nut somewhere you can easily find it as this makes it quicker for us to do a tyre change if needed. And download and use the free MyRAC mobile app as it makes it much easier for us to find you.” – RAC patrol, south west England
“Check your tyres every time, especially the inside front edges. And whatever you do, don’t start a journey with a known problem!” – RAC patrol, south west England
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Drivers plan 21 million journeys for Easter – these are the roads to avoid
The rac warns this easter bank holiday weekend is likely to be the busiest on uk roads since its records began..
A collective 21.46 million leisure trips are being planned by British drivers for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
After two years of the pandemic curtailing travel, drivers are keen to make up for lost time. The RAC expects it to be the busiest Easter break on the roads since it began tracking travel plans in 2014.
Problems with trains and railways, including potential strike action, are likely to add to the overall number of drivers hitting the road .
The Good Friday getaway
Good Friday is set to be the busiest day of all, with an estimated 4.62 million leisure trips expected to start the weekend. Easter Monday is likely to see 3.96 million trips, with Saturday and Sunday accounting for 3.63 million car journeys each.
A further 5.6 million other car journeys are expected to take place across the four-day weekend.
However, surging fuel prices have led one in five drivers (20 percent) to plan shorter journeys this year for Easter.
More than a quarter of drivers (28 percent) will use their cars less, with a third (33 percent) aiming to drive more economically .
All the ingredients for jams
The RAC has named the roads likely to experience the worst Bank Holiday congestion. Using data from INRIX, these are:
- M6 north J26 Liverpool to J36 South Lakes
- M6 south J20 to J16 Stoke-on-Trent
- A303 approaching Stonehenge
- M25 clockwise J8 to J16
RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis 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, and 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.”
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How your travel plans could be disrupted over the Easter holidays
- Rail disruption
- Thursday 6 April 2023 at 12:34pm
By Daniel Boal, ITV News Multimedia Producer
A combination of transport strikes, rail engineering works and traffic disruption could make travelling this Easter weekend a challenge for millions of British holidaymakers.
An estimated two million people are heading overseas during the Easter bank holiday weekend.
That is up 11% compared with Easter 2022, but remains 13% below the total for Easter 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.
Drivers have been warned to expect long delays on popular routes over the coming days.
The RAC is predicting up to 17 million leisure trips by car will take place between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Major roads in south-west England and some in the Home Counties are likely to experience the worst congestion on Good Friday.
Queues are likely to be worsened by engineering work on the railways, including the closure of London Euston station over the bank holiday weekend.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: "With many people keen to make the most of the double bank holiday this Easter weekend, we're expecting the customary jams across parts of the road network to make this Good Friday a bad Friday for drivers, especially those who are planning on covering longer distances.
"Traffic volumes could be even higher if the sun chooses to make a welcome appearance.
"The South and West are the areas to watch as they're home to some vital roads responsible for carrying vast numbers of people to the holiday destinations of the West Country.
"Our advice to anyone heading that way is to get on the road as early as possible on Good Friday, or travel on a different day entirely."
Heathrow Airport will see the largest number of departures, with 2,445, followed by Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester.
It comes as 1,400 members of the Unite union working in security at Heathrow announced they would be going on strike from March 31 till April 9.
The strike action has forced British Airways to cancel dozens of flights but disruption is expected to be limited to terminal 5 at the airport.
A Heathrow spokesman said: "Our contingency plans have kept the airport operating normally with security free-flowing throughout.
"We will continue to deliver for our passengers and will not let Unite ruin hard-earned holidays. Heathrow is a good employer.
"We know a majority of colleagues do not support these strikes and want to accept the 10% pay increase on the table, Unite simply refuses to allow them to vote on it."
Train operators will be running services over the Easter break, however routes and timetables across the UK have been amended due to ongoing engineering works.
The most significant of which are at London Euston and London Victoria.
Services between Euston and Milton Keynes Central have been suspended for the entire weekend.
While ongoing track and signaling upgrades mean there will be no Southern or Gatwick Express services running to or from London Victoria over the Easter weekend.
Network Rail has urged customers to plan journeys in advance due to the expected disruption caused by more than 600 scheduled engineering works over the weekend.
Holidaymakers booked on cross-Channel ferries from the Port of Dover are facing delays at the start of the Easter getaway.
Queues for passport checks by French officials at the Kent port are “up to 90 minutes”, ferry operator DFDS wrote on Twitter.
There are fears travellers at Dover will face more disruption after chaotic scenes last weekend when thousands of people were delayed, reportedly by up to 14 hours.
Delays at the port have been blamed on French border officials carrying out extra checks and stamping UK passports following Brexit.
Port officials said they held a “urgent review” with ferry operators and the French authorities in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last weekend’s delays.
Ferry companies are asking coach operators booked on sailings on Good Friday – expected to be the busiest day for outbound Easter travel from Dover – to “spread the travel” across the three-day period from Thursday to Saturday.
Additional “temporary border control infrastructure” has also been installed.
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So when should you make your Easter getaway? Best times to travel this weekend to avoid traffic hell are revealed as experts warn Good Friday is set to be 'a bad Friday for drivers'
- Travel experts give their top tips to enjoy a smooth getaway this Easter
By Stewart Carr
Updated: 04:27 EST, 5 April 2023
After a winter of discontent marred by mass strikes, passenger delays and cancellations, travel experts have given their top tips for a smooth Easter getaway.
Drivers are warned to expect severe queues on the roads - with up to 17 million leisure trips by car predicted to be made over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Britain's airports are also predicted to be busier than ever, with industrial action at Heathrow Airport adding to pressure on flights carriers.
Justin Penny, head of aviation at Flight Centre said: 'With the Easter holidays now upon us and around 6,260 departures planned over the 10-day strike at Heathrow airport there is naturally some nervousness about long delays and horrendous queues.
'The long-weekend getaway is predicted to be busier than ever, Thursday in particular. Mid-mornings is also when airports are busiest, which means travelling first thing in the morning (pre-9am) will give you the biggest chance of having a smooth experience.
Britain's airports are also predicted to be busier than ever, with industrial action at Heathrow Airport adding to pressure on flights carriers (Pictured: stock image)
Drivers are warned to expect severe queues on the roads - with up to 17 million leisure trips by car predicted to be made over the Easter bank holiday weekend
'I would suggest not getting to the airport too early - airport advice says to arrive three hours ahead for international and two hours before for domestic, which is plenty.
'We’re hearing of queues forming because travellers are panicking and arriving early, causing log jams well before their flights.'
WHICH ROADS TO AVOID THIS EASTER BANK HOLIDAY
Here's Select’s brief look at some of the areas - and times - to avoid at the beginning of the Easter break:
M1 (Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire)
Three lanes shut northbound between J14 and J15 (Milton Keynes, Northampton).
10pm to 6am, April 3-5.
Three lanes shut southbound AND northbound J15A-J15 (Northampton, Rothersthorpe)
9pm to 6am, April 3-5.
Four lanes shut on the same section of motorway from 9pm to 6am, April 16-17.
Four lanes shut southbound J31-29 (Sheffield to Chesterfield)
8pm to 6am, April 2-3.
Three lanes shut westbound between J2 and J3 (Gatwick, Woking)
8pm to 6am, April 3-6.
Three lanes shut westbound between J12 and J13 (Reading, Newbury)
9pm to 6am, March 31 to April 1.
M5 (North Somerset, Gloucestershire)
Three lanes shut southbound between J19 and J20 (Portishead, Clevedon)
9pm to 6am, April 2-6.
Two lanes (of three) shut northbound and southbound, J11-J13 (Gloucester, Stroud)
8pm to 6am April 3-6, April 11-4.
M6 (multiple locations)
All lanes shut southbound and northbound at J17/J18 (Northwich, Congleton, Cheshire)
10pm March 31 to 5am April 1.
Three lanes shut northbound J10-J11 (Walsall, Cannock)
9pm to 6am April 1-2.
Three lanes shut northbound J39-J40 (Shap, Penrith)
M18 (South Yorks)
Three lanes shut southbound J1 (Rotherham)
9pm to 5am, April 3-4.
Three lanes shut eastbound J9-J10 (Ashford)
8pm to 6am, April 3-4.
M23 (West Sussex)
Three lanes shut southbound J11 (Crawley)
8pm to 6am, April 2-6, April 11-13, April 14-15.
Four lanes shut for emergency barrier repairs clockwise J14-J15 (London Heathrow)
10pm to 6am, April 1-3.
Four lanes shut southbound J2 to J1A (Beaconsfield, Heathrow)
10pm to 6am April 3-6.
Three lanes shut eastbound J14-J12 (Chester, Runcorn)
9pm to 5am, April 3-6.
M62 (West Yorkshire)
Four lanes shut eastbound J28-J29 (Leeds)
8pm to 5am, April 2-3.
The youth travel brand owned by Flight Centre, StudentUniverse – the world’s largest student and youth travel marketplace - encourages passengers on a budget to go for 'flexible' options when booking flights.
Sam Willan of StudentUniverse said: 'It’s important to be flexible where you can - the more flexible you can be with your dates, the more likely you'll be able to save when booking.
'When searching for flights, make sure to tick the "flexible' box and select the widest parameters you can. Also consider booking two one-way flights, instead of one return flight - a little extra legwork during the search can sometimes save you quite a bit of money!'
According to Expedia's 2023 Air Travel Hack reports, travellers who book domestic flights on Sundays instead of Fridays tend to save, on average, around 20% on domestic flights and 10% on international flights.
Sam Clarke, of Experience Travel Group, said: 'As a rule of thumb, the least busy times to travel are early morning – between 5 am and 7 am and after 8pm and midweek—especially Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
'The smaller regional airports work well, especially if you can connect in Europe and avoid Heathrow altogether. If you can avoid the peak holiday dates and, for example, travel the day after Easter, that can also help avoid those queues.'
For motorists wishing to avoid traffic jam hell - locations such as the M1 near Sheffield, the M3 in Surrey, and a significant emergency barrier repair site on the M25 near London Heathrow - have been identified as routes to avoid.
Graham Conway, managing director at Select Car Leasing, says: 'When you know you've got a long journey to make, it's tempting to let the daytime traffic die down and to instead set off later in the evening.
'But motorists need to be aware that if they adopt this strategy they risk running into the dreaded overnight roadworks planned by National Highways, which typically start at around 9pm and last until the early morning.
'Over Easter, there are roadworks that have the potential to shut all lanes of major motorways, necessitating what's often a nightmarish - and wholly unexpected - detour.
'Be wise to the risk, particularly if you're travelling with young children and pets, and check the Traffic England list of planned roadwork long before you set off.'
Major roads in south-west England and some in the Home Counties are also likely to experience the worst congestion on Good Friday, according to the RAC and transport analytics company Inrix.
More than double the normal traffic levels are predicted for the A303 westbound near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the M5 south between Bristol and Bridgwater, and the M25 anticlockwise between Hertfordshire and Surrey.
Queues are likely to be increased by engineering work on the railways, including the closure of London Euston station.
A survey of 2,400 UK drivers commissioned by the RAC suggested 2.7 million car journeys have been planned for Good Friday and Easter Sunday by drivers embarking on day trips or overnight stays.
Saturday and Easter Monday are expected to be slightly less busy, with 2.3 million separate getaway trips on each day.
Many people may be waiting to see what the weather has in store as there is potential for another seven million trips to be staggered throughout the long weekend.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: 'With many people keen to make the most of the double bank holiday this Easter weekend, we're expecting the customary jams across parts of the road network to make this Good Friday a bad Friday for drivers, especially those who are planning on covering longer distances.
'Traffic volumes could be even higher if the sun chooses to make a welcome appearance.
'The South and West are the areas to watch as they're home to some vital roads responsible for carrying vast numbers of people to the holiday destinations of the West Country.
'Our advice to anyone heading that way is to get on the road as early as possible on Good Friday, or travel on a different day entirely.'
Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue said: 'We expect a large jump in holiday driving, with most congestion occurring on major roads around urban areas and popular destinations.
'Nationwide, we anticipate travel times during the holiday weekend to increase about 25% compared to normal.
'Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.'
Mr Dennis urged motorists to give their vehicles 'a bit of TLC before setting out', such as ensuring tyres are properly inflated and checking levels of oil, coolant and screenwash.
National Highways will temporarily remove more than 1,400 miles of roadworks on England's motorways and major A-roads by 6am on Thursday until Tuesday April 11.
That means more than 98% of its road network will be free from roadworks.
Network Rail is carrying out more than 600 engineering projects on Britain's railways over the Easter weekend.
No trains will run to or from London Euston between Good Friday and Easter Monday as the West Coast Main Line will be closed up to Milton Keynes Central.
This will disrupt Avanti West Coast and London Northwestern Railway services, and Caledonian Sleeper trains will use London King's Cross.
Track and signalling modernisation work on some lines into London Victoria means Southern and Gatwick Express services will not call at the station during the bank holiday weekend.
Some trains will be diverted to London Bridge.
Network Rail said it often schedules major engineering work for bank holidays to minimise disruption for passengers as fewer people travel during those periods.
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Millions face Easter travel chaos as record number of drivers hit Britain’s roads
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Millions of Britons are facing an Easter weekend of travel chaos with a record number of cars on the road, major rail disruption and long queues at ferry ports and airports.
The RAC says drivers are collectively planning more than 21 million leisure journeys by car this weekend despite the soaring cost of fuel.
It is the highest number since the organisation first started tracking motorists’ plans in 2014. The busiest day is set to be Good Friday, followed by Easter Monday.
Supplies of petrol and diesel at filling stations in some areas of the country are running at around half their usual level.
Petrol stock levels at garages in eastern England averaged 19% as of 10 April, with southeast England recording 21% and London 22%, a drop from the pre-pandemic average of 40%.
The scale of the Easter getaway on the roads is likely to be increased because of the closures of key parts of the West Coast Main railway line — one of 530 Network Rail Easter engineering projects costing a total of £83m.
Most supporters of Manchester City and Liverpool are expected to drive to Wembley to watch the semi-final of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Passengers queue to check in for the Eurostar international rail service at London St Pancras, 14 April
According to the traffic data service Inrix, the busiest locations are likely to be on the northbound M6 north between Warrington and the Lake District; the southbound M6 heading towards Stoke-on-Trent; the M25 between the M23 for Gatwick and the M40 junction for Oxford, taking in the M3 and M4 junctions; and the A303 near Stonehenge.
The road network in Kent is also disrupted because of the closure of a key 20-mile stretch of the M20 for use by trucks seeking to travel to France by tunnel or ferry.
P&O Ferries, which suspended operations on the Dover-Calais route four weeks ago, will not resume sailings after two of its ships were detained for further safety inspections by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Aviation data firm Cirium said 9,212 flights with 1.6 million seats are scheduled to depart from UK airports between Good Friday and Easter Monday. The number of flights is 78% of the total for Easter 2019, before the coronavirus crisis affected travel.
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Although we’re expecting the biggest number of Easter getaway trips by car on Friday – around 4.6m – it’s clear some drivers are keen to make an early escape ahead of the bank holiday.
“As well as the closure of the coastbound M20 for Operation Brock Zero, earlier collisions are causing problems on the southeastern M25 and roads connecting with it, as well as on the A303 in Wiltshire.
“From a breakdown perspective, we’re seeing high demand for our service across northern England, especially around the Lake District, as well as the coastal areas of west Wales.”
National Highways said there were 90-minute delays near the Dartford Tunnel in Kent on Thursday. There were also 30-minute delays due to the M18 being closed in South Yorkshire.
Elsewhere, images on social media showed a large number of people waiting for Tui check-in desks at Manchester Airport, with other customers telling of a 90-minute wait for luggage.
A Tui spokesperson said: “We can confirm that unfortunately due to staff shortages at Manchester Airport today, some customers are experiencing longer-than-usual queue times at check-in.
“Please be assured that our teams are working as quickly as they can.”
One passenger, Lukasz Ceglecki, from Burton upon Trent, said although there were lengthy queues, they were moving “relatively” quickly.
Another, Adam Francis, said on Twitter: “Utterly shambolic scenes in terminal 2 at manairport when a cleaner is the only person to provide any information on why we have no bags after 90 minutes.
“Even then she doesn’t know when we will get them.”
Manchester Airport said passengers are advised to arrive three hours before their flight and double check their hand luggage.
Meanwhile, those at Birmingham Airport told of waiting in hour-long queues for security, despite paying £4-per-person for fast-track services.
Joe Clifford, who was flying to Malaga in Spain, told the PA news agency it took him about an hour to get through security because of “very long queues”.
Dozens of British Airways and EasyJet flights to and from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.
Rail passengers have also been warned of delays as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83m.
This includes the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for four days from Good Friday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.
Parts of the railway between Birmingham International station and Coventry will also be closed, as will lines around Crewe station.
Those at London St Pancras said there were long queues for services to Europe on Thursday morning.
One passenger heading for France said he had waited for more than an hour due to staff shortages.
A West Ham fan heading for his side’s Europa League second leg tie against Lyon said there was “carnage” at the station.
Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries are also suspended, with large queues of lorries forming on roads approaching the Port of Dover.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We apologise unreservedly to all customers whose scheduled journeys with us between Dover and Calais have been cancelled while we are unable to sail.
“It is only fair and right that we make alternative arrangements for those customers, which include transferring them on to our Hull-Europoort service to Rotterdam, or booking them on to services with Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth and Caen.”
It said this would come at no extra cost for customers, with mileage expenses reimbursed and a 25% discount on the original fee.
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RACQ: Plan ahead for your Easter road trip
RACQ is urging drivers to plan their journeys and make safety their number one priority this Easter.
Head of Public Policy Susan Furze said tens of thousands of holidaymakers are expected to hit Queensland roads over the coming days.
“Unfortunately, holiday periods can be a high-risk time for crashes, with many people travelling on roads they aren’t used to,” Ms Furze said.
“We know people will be keen to get to get to their destination and enjoy the Easter break, but drivers must put safety first or they run the risk of not reaching their destination at all.
“Remember not to speed, not to drive affected by drugs or alcohol, not to get distracted and ensure you and all of your passengers are buckled up before you set off.
“Road trips often mean you’re on the road for longer periods of time too, but driving tired is extremely dangerous, so make sure you plan ahead and find spots along the way where you can safely pull in for a break – at least once every two hours.
“If you come across a roadside incident, please remember to move over or slow down to give responders a safe space to work.”
Ms Furze said many Queenslanders are also expected to head off-road this long-weekend.
“Whether you’re planning an off-road 4WDing adventure, or just a day trip along the beach, do your research and make sure you’re well prepared before you make tracks,” she said.
“Don’t forget road rules and safe driving behaviours still apply, so be on alert, wear a seatbelt, drive to the conditions and don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
“Let’s all get home safely this Easter.”
For the latest traffic and road closure information head to https://roadconditions.racq.com.au/ .
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The Moscow Metro Tour is included in most guided tours’ itineraries. Opened in 1935, under Stalin’s regime, the metro was not only meant to solve transport problems, but also was hailed as “a people’s palace”. Every station you will see during your Moscow metro tour looks like a palace room. There are bright paintings, mosaics, stained glass, bronze statues… Our Moscow metro tour includes the most impressive stations best architects and designers worked at - Ploshchad Revolutsii, Mayakovskaya, Komsomolskaya, Kievskaya, Novoslobodskaya and some others.
What is the kremlin in russia?
The guide will not only help you navigate the metro, but will also provide you with fascinating background tales for the images you see and a history of each station.
And there some stories to be told during the Moscow metro tour! The deepest station - Park Pobedy - is 84 metres under the ground with the world longest escalator of 140 meters. Parts of the so-called Metro-2, a secret strategic system of underground tunnels, was used for its construction.
During the Second World War the metro itself became a strategic asset: it was turned into the city's biggest bomb-shelter and one of the stations even became a library. 217 children were born here in 1941-1942! The metro is the most effective means of transport in the capital.
There are almost 200 stations 196 at the moment and trains run every 90 seconds! The guide of your Moscow metro tour can explain to you how to buy tickets and find your way if you plan to get around by yourself.
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The Moscow Metro Museum of Art: 10 Must-See Stations
There are few times one can claim having been on the subway all afternoon and loving it, but the Moscow Metro provides just that opportunity. While many cities boast famous public transport systems—New York’s subway, London’s underground, San Salvador’s chicken buses—few warrant hours of exploration. Moscow is different: Take one ride on the Metro, and you’ll find out that this network of railways can be so much more than point A to B drudgery.
The Metro began operating in 1935 with just thirteen stations, covering less than seven miles, but it has since grown into the world’s third busiest transit system ( Tokyo is first ), spanning about 200 miles and offering over 180 stops along the way. The construction of the Metro began under Joseph Stalin’s command, and being one of the USSR’s most ambitious building projects, the iron-fisted leader instructed designers to create a place full of svet (radiance) and svetloe budushchee (a radiant future), a palace for the people and a tribute to the Mother nation.
Consequently, the Metro is among the most memorable attractions in Moscow. The stations provide a unique collection of public art, comparable to anything the city’s galleries have to offer and providing a sense of the Soviet era, which is absent from the State National History Museum. Even better, touring the Metro delivers palpable, experiential moments, which many of us don’t get standing in front of painting or a case of coins.
Though tours are available , discovering the Moscow Metro on your own provides a much more comprehensive, truer experience, something much less sterile than following a guide. What better place is there to see the “real” Moscow than on mass transit: A few hours will expose you to characters and caricatures you’ll be hard-pressed to find dining near the Bolshoi Theater. You become part of the attraction, hear it in the screech of the train, feel it as hurried commuters brush by: The Metro sucks you beneath the city and churns you into the mix.
With the recommendations of our born-and-bred Muscovite students, my wife Emma and I have just taken a self-guided tour of what some locals consider the top ten stations of the Moscow Metro. What most satisfied me about our Metro tour was the sense of adventure . I loved following our route on the maps of the wagon walls as we circled the city, plotting out the course to the subsequent stops; having the weird sensation of being underground for nearly four hours; and discovering the next cavern of treasures, playing Indiana Jones for the afternoon, piecing together fragments of Russia’s mysterious history. It’s the ultimate interactive museum.
Top Ten Stations (In order of appearance)
Kievskaya Station went public in March of 1937, the rails between it and Park Kultury Station being the first to cross the Moscow River. Kievskaya is full of mosaics depicting aristocratic scenes of Russian life, with great cameo appearances by Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. Each work has a Cyrillic title/explanation etched in the marble beneath it; however, if your Russian is rusty, you can just appreciate seeing familiar revolutionary dates like 1905 ( the Russian Revolution ) and 1917 ( the October Revolution ).
Mayakovskaya Station ranks in my top three most notable Metro stations. Mayakovskaya just feels right, done Art Deco but no sense of gaudiness or pretention. The arches are adorned with rounded chrome piping and create feeling of being in a jukebox, but the roof’s expansive mosaics of the sky are the real showstopper. Subjects cleverly range from looking up at a high jumper, workers atop a building, spires of Orthodox cathedrals, to nimble aircraft humming by, a fleet of prop planes spelling out CCCP in the bluest of skies.
Novoslobodskaya is the Metro’s unique stained glass station. Each column has its own distinctive panels of colorful glass, most of them with a floral theme, some of them capturing the odd sailor, musician, artist, gardener, or stenographer in action. The glass is framed in Art Deco metalwork, and there is the lovely aspect of discovering panels in the less frequented haunches of the hall (on the trackside, between the incoming staircases). Novosblod is, I’ve been told, the favorite amongst out-of-town visitors.
Komsomolskaya Station is one of palatial grandeur. It seems both magnificent and obligatory, like the presidential palace of a colonial city. The yellow ceiling has leafy, white concrete garland and a series of golden military mosaics accenting the tile mosaics of glorified Russian life. Switching lines here, the hallway has an Alice-in-Wonderland feel, impossibly long with decorative tile walls, culminating in a very old station left in a remarkable state of disrepair, offering a really tangible glimpse behind the palace walls.
Dostoevskaya is a tribute to the late, great hero of Russian literature . The station at first glance seems bare and unimpressive, a stark marble platform without a whiff of reassembled chips of tile. However, two columns have eerie stone inlay collages of scenes from Dostoevsky’s work, including The Idiot , The Brothers Karamazov , and Crime and Punishment. Then, standing at the center of the platform, the marble creates a kaleidoscope of reflections. At the entrance, there is a large, inlay portrait of the author.
Chkalovskaya does space Art Deco style (yet again). Chrome borders all. Passageways with curvy overhangs create the illusion of walking through the belly of a chic, new-age spacecraft. There are two (kos)mosaics, one at each end, with planetary subjects. Transferring here brings you above ground, where some rather elaborate metalwork is on display. By name similarity only, I’d expected Komsolskaya Station to deliver some kosmonaut décor; instead, it was Chkalovskaya that took us up to the space station.
Elektrozavodskaya is full of marble reliefs of workers, men and women, laboring through the different stages of industry. The superhuman figures are round with muscles, Hollywood fit, and seemingly undeterred by each Herculean task they respectively perform. The station is chocked with brass, from hammer and sickle light fixtures to beautiful, angular framework up the innards of the columns. The station’s art pieces are less clever or extravagant than others, but identifying the different stages of industry is entertaining.
Baumanskaya Station is the only stop that wasn’t suggested by the students. Pulling in, the network of statues was just too enticing: Out of half-circle depressions in the platform’s columns, the USSR’s proud and powerful labor force again flaunts its success. Pilots, blacksmiths, politicians, and artists have all congregated, posing amongst more Art Deco framing. At the far end, a massive Soviet flag dons the face of Lenin and banners for ’05, ’17, and ‘45. Standing in front of the flag, you can play with the echoing roof.
Ploshchad Revolutsii Station
Novokuznetskaya Station finishes off this tour, more or less, where it started: beautiful mosaics. This station recalls the skyward-facing pieces from Mayakovskaya (Station #2), only with a little larger pictures in a more cramped, very trafficked area. Due to a line of street lamps in the center of the platform, it has the atmosphere of a bustling market. The more inventive sky scenes include a man on a ladder, women picking fruit, and a tank-dozer being craned in. The station’s also has a handsome black-and-white stone mural.
Here is a map and a brief description of our route:
Start at (1)Kievskaya on the “ring line” (look for the squares at the bottom of the platform signs to help you navigate—the ring line is #5, brown line) and go north to Belorusskaya, make a quick switch to the Dark Green/#2 line, and go south one stop to (2)Mayakovskaya. Backtrack to the ring line—Brown/#5—and continue north, getting off at (3)Novosblodskaya and (4)Komsolskaya. At Komsolskaya Station, transfer to the Red/#1 line, go south for two stops to Chistye Prudy, and get on the Light Green/#10 line going north. Take a look at (5)Dostoevskaya Station on the northern segment of Light Green/#10 line then change directions and head south to (6)Chkalovskaya, which offers a transfer to the Dark Blue/#3 line, going west, away from the city center. Have a look (7)Elektroskaya Station before backtracking into the center of Moscow, stopping off at (8)Baumskaya, getting off the Dark Blue/#3 line at (9)Ploschad Revolyutsii. Change to the Dark Green/#2 line and go south one stop to see (10)Novokuznetskaya Station.
Check out our new Moscow Indie Travel Guide , book a flight to Moscow and read 10 Bars with Views Worth Blowing the Budget For
Jonathon Engels, formerly a patron saint of misadventure, has been stumbling his way across cultural borders since 2005 and is currently volunteering in the mountains outside of Antigua, Guatemala. For more of his work, visit his website and blog .
Photo credits: SergeyRod , all others courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission