TODAY: as expected, the second Black Saturday was certainly less busy than the first but traffic both confounded and confirmed predictions.
Also, who knew Sardinia was home to one of Europe’s most exclusive resorts? Or that it’s served by a comprehensive network of ferries around the west Mediterranean?
BLACK SATURDAY 2: THE POST MORTEM
Holiday traffic both confirms and confounds predictions.
Cumulative traffic jams peaked at 720km in France today (Saturday 9 August). As expected that was considerably less than the 994km registered on the same day last week.
In other respects the traffic defied predictions. Returning holidaymakers did not play much of a role. Whereas jams had already begun to form on the A7 Lyon-Avignon by 04:00 last Saturday morning – in line with our working observation that French drivers set off much earlier that elsewhere – in general the traffic took much longer to get going this week.
There was a sixty minute delay on the A7 by 07:30 but an hour later it was still noticeably quiet on the A10 Paris-Bordeaux. By mid-morning however total delays on the A10 were more than three hours.
For the second week running, a major accident on the A71/A75 via Clermont-Ferrand triggered the worst individual delays. This road is rapidly losing its reputation as a quieter alternative to the A7 south.
Meanwhile, the A9 to the Spanish border was busy but not gridlocked; the A61 to the A9 from Toulouse did not see any major delays and the A7/A8 Avignon-Nice was free flowing all day, again.
For now, the leave-as-late-as-possible advice still holds for driving through France on busy days, and queues did begin to obviously subside early afternoon. But there were still significant – and widespread – delays in the early evening.
Meanwhile, true to form, the Germans started late. With the exception of the roads south through Munich, the first jams did not register until late morning. Traffic in north Germany – especially the A31 Emstunnel at Leer and A7 Hannover-Hamburg-Denmark – was particularly heavy.
Delays reached, and stayed at, around two hours northbound to the Gotthard Tunnel though, again, it was 09:30 before the big queues started. Austria was also generally very busy though traffic on the B179 Fernpass peaked quite low and died away quite quickly.
The Italians did not disappoint on their busiest driving day of the year. Jams on the A1/A14 Milan-Bologna-Rimini were fearsome right from first thing but had more or less disappeared by early afternoon as the A22 Brennero in the south, Verona-Rovereto, picked up the slack.
Undoubtedly worst overall was the A4 Padova-Venice-Trieste. Like last week, multi-hour, multi-point delays stated early on and lasted all day.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: quiet day then delays up to 45mins this evening.
CONDOR FERRIES rescheduled services. Commodore Clipper on course to rejoin 26 August.