UK weather: ‘Extreme caution’ urged on roads and trains cancelled as 80mph (130kph) gusts batter Britain
Severe gales of more than 80mph have battered parts of Britain, bringing fresh travel disruption on the roads and topping trees onto railway lines. Drivers have been warned to only travel if necessary, with delays likely on roads and trains. In Scotland, police urged motorists to drive with “extreme caution” amid wintry conditions. Emergency services in several areas reported fallen trees and National Rail reported widespread weather-related delays. Forecasters issued yellow “be aware” wind warnings as gusts reached 83mph in Tibenham Airfield, near Norwich, and 78mph in Aberdaron, Wales. UK Power Networks said more than 5,000 customers were affected by power cuts in the Geat Yarmouth area with hundreds more homes impacted across the east of England. Meanwhile, a Met Office amber weather warning of snow and ice for Scotland ended at 5am and police downgraded their advice to “high risk”. They said there is a high likelihood of disruption and delays on the roads. Meterologist Alex Burkill said: “It’s going to be a cold and blustery day with further showers especially in the north and west. “There is likely to be disruption to travel so before you had head out, it’s worth taking a look at the state of the roads you will be travelling on.”There is a risk you could be held up and delayed and if you think that’s possible, make sure you have essentials with you such as coats, water and food in case you get held up for several hours.
Trains cancelled as railway lines blocked
Disruption was caused by a train hitting a tree near Lower Sydenham in south-east London and another service colliding with a fence on the line near Sheerness-on-Sea in Kent. A tree also fell onto the line in the Deal area of Kent, while a freight train struck two sheds that had blown on to the railway between Newtown and Welshpool in Wales. In a series of tweets outlining the problems, National Rail said level crossing barriers between Chester and Wrexham had been damaged by high winds, with replacement road transport running between Chester and Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, damage to overhead power cables blocked lines between Colchester and Ipswich, and Birmingham and Redditch. Poor weather conditions also delayed journeys to and from London’s King’s Cross station after an object was caught in the overhead electric wires between Peterborough and Stevenage. Fallen trees caused disruption to journeys across networks including the Gatwick Express, Southern and Thameslink. Passengers were warned that trains might be cancelled, delayed by up to 30 minutes or revised, with disruption expected until at least midday. A Southern Rail spokesman said: “High winds can cause a number of problems for the railway, in particular obstructions caused by fallen trees and other debris blown onto the lines. In exposed coastal areas where gusts are strongest high waves may also cause damage to tracks and ballast (small stones which tracks rest on). “Network Rail, who own and maintain the railway have additional staff in place ready to respond to potential problems. They also have specialist chainsaw trained teams ready to remove fallen trees and branches.”
Which Southern lines have been affected?
- Oxted – Uckfield
- Oxted – East Grinstead
- Horsham – Dorking
- Southampton – Havant
- Purley – Tattenham Corner
There was also widespread disruption across the South Western Railway network after a number of trees blocked lines. Passengers were warned of delays and cancellations across routes in areas including Weymouth, Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Guildford and London Waterloo. The problem also damaged signalling equipment at Milford, Surrey, blocking lines, and power supply equipment at Hinchley Wood
Fallen trees and brick gable blown away
Several police and fire and rescue services forces, including Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Norfolk, Surrey, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire, reported fallen trees and urged people to take extra care. Poor weather conditions were also affecting railways in the Midlands, with overhead electric wires damaged between Wolverhampton and Stafford. West Midlands Fire Service said no one was injured when a brick gable was blown off a house in the Stoke Heath area of Coventry. Pictures posted on Twitter by crews at the city’s Foleshill fire station showed debris on the ground near the three-storey property. Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police said it had received a large amount of calls regarding fallen trees blocking roads. Passengers were being warned to expect delays to and from Manchester Piccadilly, between Birmingham New Street and Crewe, through Birmingham New Street and between Birmingham New Street and Redditch.
Weather warnings for snow and ice
A snow and ice warning in place for northern areas of Scotland will be extended to Northern Ireland and northern England, forecasters said. During the night, temperatures dropped at low as -7C (19F) in Loch Glascarnoch while snowfalls continued to be topped up. Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway recorded up 36cm of lying snow, while Spadeadam in Cumbria, which escaped much of the snow on Wednesday, now has 23cm of snow – with up to 20cm falling on Wednesday night alone. On Wednesday, persistent snow and ice caused treacherous driving conditions and brought the M74 in Scotland to a standstill – with more than 200 motorists stranded in their vehicles overnight – but Traffic Scotland said there were no significant incidents on the roads for rush hour traffic and traffic on the M74 was “coping well”. During the night, Police Scotland issued a “stage four” warning, advising drivers to avoid travelling on roads in areas covered by amber snow warnings. This was later downgraded to stage three to warn motorists of a “high risk of disruption” during the morning. Police Scotland Superintendent Calum Glenny said: “Despite some difficult weather conditions in the Dumfries and Galloway area which caused some disruption, the weather was not as severe as was first forecast. “Thankfully, a significant number of motorists heeded the warnings which had been issued to avoid travelling on the roads and I’d like to thank them for doing so.”