Christmas travellers face chaos as flooding hits road and rail network

 

A white Christmas dream turned into a wet Christmas nightmare for millions of travellers today.

Continued heavy rain played havoc with road and rail journeys, while a series of accidents on major highways added to the travel chaos.

Travellers faced reduced services on some rail lines in any case, due to planned engineering work.

And although many motorways and major route roadworks were lifted for Christmas, a number were still in place on busy roads.

The planned engineering work on the railways included disruption on the West Coast line run by Virgin Trains.

Among other companies affected by the flooding were CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, First Great Western (FGW) and First TransPennine Express.

The South West was particularly badly hit by the floods, as it was a few weeks ago,

No trains ran between Bristol Parkway and Swindon, while services between Paddington in London and Swansea were being diverted, with journey times extended up to 45 minutes.

Among services unable to run today were Exeter St Davids to Tiverton Parkway and the Cornish route between Looe and Liskeard. On both routes services were not expected to operate until Friday at the earliest.

FGW said poor road conditions meant that buses would not be able to travel on many routes, and advised passengers not to travel if possible.

A shortage of train crew on London Midland - a problem that has plagued its passengers for months - meant buses had to replace trains on some routes.

To add to travellers' problems, early-morning services in and out of Moorgate in London were affected by a fire alert at Moorgate. Services resumed later.

In the Glazebrook area of north-west England, a landslip meant disruption. Buses were replacing trains between Warrington Central and Manchester Oxford Road and also between Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Central/Birchwood.

First TransPennine Express services between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly were diverted via Newton-le-Willows and were not calling at Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington Central or Birchwood.

East Midlands Trains services to and from Liverpool Lime Street started and terminated at Manchester Oxford Road.

The affected line was not expected to reopen until Friday at the earliest.

Numerous roads were flooded, many in areas which were under water only a few weeks ago.

Worcestershire was one of the worst-hit counties. Among roads closed due to the floods were those in Worcester, Bromsgrove and Evesham.

In Devon, motorists in Newton Abbot had to contend with a landslip, while the A377 was affected by flooding.

Other areas where roads were flooded included Kelham and Shelford in Nottinghamshire and Ufton Nervet in Berkshire.

A series of accidents on major routes also hampered those going away for Christmas.

Among motorways where accidents caused jams in the morning rush-hour were the M1 in Hertfordshire, the M27 in Hampshire, the M40 near Gaydon in Warwickshire and another stretch of the M40 in Buckinghamshire.

FGW passengers had further problems when a broken-down train meant no services were able to run between St Erth and St Ives in Cornwall. The company was hoping to be able to put on replacement buses.

The flooding was particularly bad on the south coast in Sussex. The A27 near Chichester, the A29 in Bognor Regis and another section of the A27 near North Lancing were all affected.

Rail travellers in Sussex were also affected by an electrical supply problem which meant buses had to replace trains between Seaford and Newhaven Harbour.

The London Midland staff problem mean buses had to replace trains between Bedford and Bletchley and also between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey.

Last week the Government announced that London Midland season ticket holders would be getting five days' free travel in compensation for the continuous problems they had endured.

Other areas with flooded roads included Burrowbridge in Somerset; Newburgh in Aberdeenshire, Scotland; and Stainton in Monmouthshire, South Wales.

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