Storm batters southern Britain, disrupting flights, trains

October 28, 2013 | By | Reply More

Oct 28, – Rail services across much of southern Britain have been cancelled for the morning rush hour as a storm continues to batter parts of England and Wales. UK Power Networks says 40,000 homes are without power. The M4 Second Severn crossing has reopened but the M48 Severn Bridge is still closed, while 130 flights have been cancelled at Heathrow airport.

hromedia Rush hour travel disruption as storm batters UK eu news2The Met Office said a gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, at 05:00 GMT.

The Environment Agency has issued 17 flood warnings – all in south west England, there are also 152 flood alerts across England and Wales.

Robin Gisby, network operations managing director for Network Rail, said more than 40 railway line blockages caused by falling trees have been cleared, but more are expected to be found by special trains being used to clear tracks.

He said: “In four cases the train being sent through to inspect the line has hit a fallen tree and we have one train in Devon which is currently disabled following a collision with a fallen tree. We are also dealing with a landslip in the New Forest area.”

Mr Gisby added: “As the storm passes from west to east, we will be carrying out safety assessments as quickly as possible to clear routes and get trains running safely.

“We now expect to start services into Waterloo before 09.00 GMT. Routes from Sussex, Kent and Anglia will follow. Services elsewhere into London are running but at reduced capacity and speed.”

Other travel warnings include:

  • South West Trains have advised people not to travel on Monday with most services not running until at least 10:00 GMT to allow Network Rail to check lines. A reduced timetable will be in operation, with some trains limited to speeds of 50mph
  • East Coast will operate a revised emergency timetable on Monday, with trains stopping at Peterborough until 10:00 GMT, and limited to speeds of 50mph afterwards
  • First Great Western and Virgin West Coast main line are also running an amended service until 10:00 GMT and 09:00 GMT respectively. First Great Western has suspended the service between Guildford and Gatwick Airport. Virgin West Coast said journey times may be extended by up to 70 minutes
  • First Capital Connect and C2C said services are unlikely to begin until 09:00 GMT. Greater Anglia, Southern, Stansted Express and Gatwick Express have also said services will not run until after 09:00 GMT
  • London Overground will not run a service on Monday before 09:00 GMT, while Southeastern said services might not start until 09:00 or 10:00 GMT, and then with an amended timetable
  • Transport for London (TfL) said there was disruption to six Underground lines due to debris from the storm on the tracks. The Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern and Piccadilly lines were all partially closed
  • Meanwhile, Chiltern Railways says its speed restriction has been lifted and it is hoping to run a near normal timetable
  • Airports including Heathrow and Gatwick are warning of possible disruption to flights, advising passengers to check with airlines
  • EasyJet has warned passengers there could be disruption to flights on Monday. It said no trains would run to Gatwick, Southend, Stansted or Luton airports before 09:00 GMT. Gatwick Airport reports seven cancellations
  • Several ferry companies have also cancelled services, including some English Channel and Irish Sea crossings
  • The second Severn crossing re-opened by 06:00 GMT but the old M48 bridge remains closed, and flooding is still affecting roads in Wales
  • The A249 Sheppey Crossing in Kent and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge on the M25 are closed. The Tamar Bridge which joins Cornwall and Devon has reopened
  • The Highways Agency is advising motorists to check the weather forecast and road conditions before they travel

n other developments:

  • Coastguards will decide later whether to resume the search for a missing 14-year-old boy who was swept away by the sea in East Sussex
  • East Sussex County Council says refuse collections have been suspended on Monday because of the safety risk posed by the winds
  • Sussex Police say 125 trees have fallen across Sussex – including one on a taxi in Eastbourne, from which the driver climbed out uninjured
  • Forecasters said exposed coasts in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent could face the strongest winds.
  • Ships over the English Channel have reported gusts in excess of 80mph, with one in the Dover Straits nearer 90mph.
  • BBC weather forecaster Mike Silverstone said the wind was moving inland.
  • He said: “At the moment we’ve got some really strong winds running across parts of southern England and into the south Midlands.
  • “That core is running north-eastwards into East Anglia in the next two to three hours.
  • “We will probably continue to see winds of 70 to 80mph before it runs into the North Sea by about 11.00 GMT.”
  • The Metropolitan Police is urging people to use its 101 number during the storm rather than 999, unless there is a “genuine” emergency.
  • Wind speeds of 115 mph were recorded during the so-called Great Storm of October 1987.
  • Do you live in one of the areas predicted to be hit by the storm? What precautions will you be taking? Has the weather forecast altered your plans? Please send us your comments using the form below.

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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