24 Dec 2013

Storms cause travel chaos

At least four people have died, thousands of homes are without power, and the transport network is in chaos, as storms batter the UK.

Storms are bringing major disruption, with road closures and train cancellations expected throughout Tuesday, on one of the busiest days of the year for travelling in the UK.

The Environment Agency has 124 flood warnings in place across the UK, meaning flooding is expected. Three-quarters of the flood alerts are in the south of the UK.

David Jordan, director of operations at the Environment Agency, said: “Tragically people die because they’ve taken risks and attempted to drive through flood water just to save a few minutes.

“Flood water is dangerous. If there is widespread flooding in your area then don’t travel and if a road is closed then turn around and make a detour. Your journey could take you a little longer but making the right decision could ultimately save your life.”

Two people died on Monday in separate river incidents, in North Wales and Cumbria, with both of the deceased pronounced dead at the scene. The man in Cumbria was named as 48-year-old Simon Martindale.

On Tuesday, the West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed that a woman had died, and a man was seriously injured, in a car crash which happened in “difficult weather conditions”. The crash, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, happened just after 9.30pm on Monday night, and involved three cars.

A fourth man, who was hospitalised with serious injuries after diving into a river in Newton Abbot, Devon, to save his dog, has also died. Witnesses saw the 46-year-old being swept away by the current after he leapt into the River Lemon on Tuesday.

In Dorset, fire crews have rescued 25 people who were trapped in their cars by flood water.

Rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group said that the strong winds had damaged overhead wires and brought down more than 80 trees on to lines. In addition some parts of the network had been flooded overnight.

National Rail added that more than 200 trees had come down on lines during the last 24 hours and there had been “a further 100 major incidents discovered on top of that”.

More than 100,000 homes were left without power due to storms. Supplier South Electric said on Tuesday that it had restored power to 40,000 homes, but another 70,000 remained without electricity – and some would not see the lights turned back on ibn time for Christmas.

Where are the disruptions?

UK weather - train (picture: Getty)



Southeastern is advising passengers to start their journey as soon as possible. The following routes are currently open:

  • London Charing Cross – Dartford via Abbey Wood / Woolwich Arsenal
  • London Charing Cross – Dartford via Bexleyheath
  • London Charing Cross – Elmers End
  • London Charing Cross – Sevenoaks (every 30 minutes)
  • London St Pancras International – Ashford International
  • London Victoria – Bromley South / Orpington
  • Faversham – Gillingham
  • Gillingham – Higham
  • Paddock Wood / Maidstone West – Strood (every 30 minutes)
  • Faversham and Dover Priory via Canterbury East.
  • Robertsbridge – Hastings (every 30 minutes)
  • Bromley North – Grove Park
  • Ashford International – Canterbury West (hourly service)

All other routes not listed above are suspended at present and no replacement road transport is available at this time.

For passengers using London St Pancras International, the station is extremely busy, and crowd control measures may be in place.

Where no service frequency is shown, trains are running on ‘shuttle basis’ – the company said “every effort will be made to provide a train service every 30 minutes however this may be hourly on occasions.”

South West Trains

South West Trains are currently only running trains on the following routes:

  • London Waterloo – Weymouth
  • London Waterloo – Readin
  • London Waterloo – Windsor & Eton Riverside
  • London Waterlo, via Barnes Bridge, to Hounslow
  • London Waterloo to Richmond via Wimbledon and London Waterloo to Wimbledon via Richmond.
  • Guildford and Haslemere.
  • Peterfield and Portsmouth & Southsea
  • London Waterloo and Guildford
  • London Waterloo – Effingham Junction via Cobham
  • London Waterloo – Epsom
  • Lopndon Waterloo – Dorking
  • London Waterloo – Hampton Court.
  • London Waterloo – Salisbury

Trains are not expected to be able to run between Virginia Water and Weybridge for the rest of today, due to damage caused by a falling tree.

Southern Trains and Gatwick Express Services

Due to the number of blockages on the line, various Southern services are currently suspended while safety checks are carried out and debris is removed from the line. Passengers are advised not to travel.

Some routes are now open but services are limited and may be subject to alterations. The following routes now have a limited service:

  • Caterham – London Victoria (via Norbury)
  • Shepherds Bush – Clapham Junction
  • Brighton – Haywards Heath
  • Brighton – Barnham
  • Bognor Regis – Barnham
  • Eastbourne – Brighton
  • Newhaven – Brighton
  • Tattenham Corner – London Victoria
  • West Croydon – London Bridge
  • Epsom – London Victoria
  • London Bridge – Beckenham Junction
  • London Bridge – Caterham
  • London Bridge – East Grinstead

A landslip between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport means lines are currently blocked.

Southern passengers may use their tickets on London Buses and London Underground services on reasonable routes and Metro Buses between Purley and Three Bridges.

First Great Western

The line is currently closed between Reading and Gatwick Airport. A very limited number of buses are replacing trains.

Trains between Barnstaple and Exeter St Davids are currently unable to run because of flooding. Due to poor road conditions there is no alternative transport available.

Trains between Reading and Bedwyn are being delayed because of flooding and trains are unable to call at Newbury.

Trains are unable to run between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth because of flooding. Due to poor road conditions there is no alternative transport available.

Trains are unable to run between Westbury and Southampton. Due to poor road conditions there is no alternative transport available.

Trains between Swindon and Bristol Parkway are being delayed because of flooding.

Trains cannot run between Taunton and Exeter St Davids. A very limited number of buses are replacing trains.

Trains between Liskeard and Looe are being delayed by approximately 30 minutes because of flooding.

Arriva Trains Wales

Trains between Cardiff and Cheltenham Spa are no longer terminating at Lydney, there may still be residual delays whilst services recover.

All other routes are currently open but passengers are advised to check their journeys before travelling.

Virgin Trains

Virgin said services between England and Scotland may be delayed due to speed restrictions between Preston and Carlisle.

First TransPennine Express

Speed restrictions have been delaying trains between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh / Glasgow, between Manchester Airport / Preston / Oxenholme and Windermere and between Manchester Airport and Blackpool North / Barrow-in-Furness. These restrictions have now been lifted, but residual delays may occur while services return to normal.

Cross Country

No trains will return between Gloucester and Cardiff Central due to flooding at Lydney. Birmingham to Bournemouth services will terminate at Southampton due to flooding at Sway.

Birmingham to West Country services will terminate at Bristol Temple Meads due to flooding between Tiverton and Exeter St Davids. A rail shuttle will run between Exeter St Davids and Plymouth.

London Midland

Trains between Bedford and Bletchley are currently suspended. Buses are replacing trains between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction because of overhead wire problems.

London Overground

Overhead wire problem between Acton Central and Kentish Town West is causing delays of up to 60 minutes to trains between Richmond and Stratford. Stations between Richmond and Camden Road will not be served.

Grand Central

Flooding at Potters Bar is causing delays between Stevenage and London Kings Cross. Services may divert via Hertford North where possible and not call at stations between Stevenage and Alexandra Palace.

Greater Anglia and Stansted Express

Services between Walton-on-the-Naze / Clacton-on-Sea and Colchester are suspended because of overhead wire damage between Thorpe-le-Soken and Weeley. A bus service will be in place between Clacton-on-Sea / Walton-on-the-Naze and Colchester.

Harich Town to Manningtree line is now open following overhead wire damage.

A broken down train at Tottenham Hale means some services from London Liverpool Street to Hertford East , Stansted Airport and Cambridge are being diverted via Seven Sisters.


Overhead wire problems at Saltcoats are disrupting trains in the area. Buses are replacing trains between Kilwinning and Largs / Ardrossan Harbour.

The Isle of Wight’s Island Line between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin is currently suspended. Some Greater Anglia routes and the Stansted Express are now running, but will be subject to severe delays. C2c said all its services had resumed, but trains may be delayed by up to 30 minutes.

East Coast said it was planning to run its normal Christmas Eve timetable.

UK weather - roads (picture: Getty)


A number of delays and troad closures are being reported by the Highways Agency.

The A31 eastbound and westbound is closed between the junctions with the A341 and the A348, due to an incident. The road is expected to re-open from 6pm.

The A36 northbound and southbound is closed between the junctions with the A348 and the A341, due to flooding. The road is expected to re-open from 6pm.

The A303 westbound is closed between the junctions with the A372 and the A3088, due to flooding. Road expected to re-open from 6pm.

UK weather - ferry (picture: Getty)


Dover Port reopened and ferry services resumed at 7.30am. The port had been closed due to fears over customer and staff safety in the poor weather.

P&O Ferries said sailings between Larne and Cairnryan have been suspended until further notice and that, based on the current forecast, it is unlikely that sailings will resume before lunchtime.

All P&O services from Dublin and Liverpool have been suspended until further notice.

Irish Ferries has cancelled some services between Holyhead and Dublin.

Air travel

A number of flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Glasgow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and other airports have been delayed or cancelled.