Storm Babet travel advice: How the extreme weather is affecting trains, flights and ferry services

Ferry links between Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland have been cancelled, as well as Pentland Firth crossings from Scrabster to Stromness

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 19 October 2023 11:03 BST
UK: Storm Babet’s High Winds, Torrential Rain Lash Scotland Amid Rare Red Weather Warning 3

Trains, planes and ferries are being affected by Storm Babet – which, warns the Met Office, will bring “exceptional rainfall and impactful wind for some”.

Forecasters have issued a red warning for rain for parts of eastern Scotland, affecting Angus and Aberdeenshire. The warning is in force from 6pm on Thursday through to 12 noon on Friday. It is issued because of “a danger to life from flood water, extensive flooding to homes and businesses and severely disrupted travel conditions”.

The chief meteorologist for the Met Office, Jason Kelly, said: “100–150mm of rain is expected to fall quite widely within the warning period, with some locations likely to see 200–250mm, which is expected to cause considerable impacts with flooding likely.

“Storm Babet will track gradually northwards in the coming days, and although the most significant impacts are expected within the red and amber warning areas, there will still be wider impacts for much of the UK from this wind and rain.”

A spokesperson for the British Geological Survey said: “There is a history of coastal landslides within the warning area. Infrastructure slopes are also likely to be affected with potential for disruption to roads and railway within the warning area.”

ScotRail has cancelled all trains on seven Scottish routes on Thursday and Friday:

  • Edinburgh and Aberdeen via Fife
  • Perth and Aberdeen via Dundee
  • Dunblane and Perth
  • Perth and Aviemore
  • Tain and Wick / Thurso
  • All Fife Circle services

The train operator warns: “Due to the red weather warning and the likelihood of flooding and poor driving conditions, customers on these routes are advised not to travel as no alternative transport is available.”

ScotRail says the line closures are planned to last until early on Saturday – but warns: “This is dependent on the weather conditions and any repair work to railway infrastructure that’s required.”

Other routes across the network will be affected by precautionary speed restrictions, meaning services may be subject to delay or cancellation.

David Simpson, ScotRail’s service delivery director, said: “We know the impact that the withdrawal of some train services will have on customers, but our first priority is always to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”

LNER, which normally runs from London King’s Cross via the East Coast main line to Aberdeen and Inverness, says: “Due to severe weather conditions forecast for Thursday 19 October and Friday 20 October across Scotland, LNER will not run any services north of Edinburgh on these dates. Please do not travel on this part of our route.”

Further south, repairs to the Plessey Viaduct, between Cramlington and Morpeth in Northumberland, means only a single line is open – leading to cancellations and delays.

Ferry links between Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland have been cancelled, as well as Pentland Firth crossings from Scrabster to Stromness.

Caledonian MacBrayne has suspended or diverted a number of Western Isles services because of forecast “strong winds and sea swell”.

The Ullapool-Stornoway crossing, the main link to Lewis and Harris, is cancelled all day. The crossing from Lochboisdale in South Uist to Mallaig is diverted to Oban.

Flights are already being affected, with Wideroe cancelling its round-trip from Stavanger to Aberdeen.

An easyJet flight on Thursday afternoon is delayed by four hours.

Loganair has cancelled its morning flight from Newcastle to Aberdeen. The airline said: “Given the Met Office weather warning forecast on Thursday, 19 and Friday, 20 October 2023, across the UK, and the potential for travel disruption, we are offering customers travelling on flights to/from Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall and Sumburgh the opportunity to adjust travel plans without charge.”

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