Storm Ciara: travel disruption expected as 80mph winds predicted

Network Rail will impose a blanket speed restriction of 50mph on many lines on Sunday because of fears of debris being blown on to the line by the high winds

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 07 February 2020 20:07 GMT
Saturday Morning forecast

Rail and sea passengers have been warned to expect severe disruption on Sunday as Storm Ciara sweeps in from the Atlantic, bringing winds of up to 100mph.

The Met Office has extended its amber warning to the whole of southern Britain, below a line between Cumbria and the Humber, between 8am and 9pm on Sunday.

Train travellers are being urged to make their journey earlier or later.

Network Rail will impose a blanket speed restriction of 50mph on many lines on Sunday because of fears of debris being blown on to the line by the high winds.

The infrastructure provider said: “High winds have the potential to damage overhead lines and tracks, for example through debris or lineside trees falling on to the railway.

“To keep passengers safe, reduced services and speed restrictions are likely to be in place across large parts of the rail network on Sunday.

“While the strongest winds are expected on Sunday, disruption could follow into Monday morning because high wind levels can make it unsafe for engineers to work at height, or with certain machinery, meaning any repairs might not be completed in time for Monday morning’s services.”

LNER, which runs most services on the East Coast main line from London to Yorkshire, Newcastle and Scotland, said: “We are advising you not to travel on Sunday 9 February. We will be running a reduced timetable.”

The plan is to run services every hour from Edinburgh to London King’s Cross, with connections to Leeds at Doncaster. Journey times will be almost doubled.

Passengers booked to travel on Sunday can use their tickets to travel on any LNER train on Saturday before 6pm or on Monday. “If you choose not to travel, you will be entitled to a full refund,” said LNER.

Its competitor, Grand Central, will not run any trains on Sunday.

“Customers with Grand Central tickets dated Sunday 9 February can use those tickets on either Saturday 8 February or Monday 10 February on any Grand Central service,” said the train operator.

On the West Coast main line from London Euston to the West Midlands, northwest England and Scotland, Avanti is warning: “Where speed restrictions are imposed, journey times will be doubled and customers should travel only if necessary.

“The extended journey times also mean the number of trains Avanti West Coast can operate is significantly reduced.”

The usual three-trains-hourly services from London to Birmingham and Manchester will be reduced to one per hour.

“Seat reservations will not be available,” says Avanti. “There will be no provision of road transport.”

CrossCountry has axed dozens of trains, with no services running between Birmingham New Street and Cardiff Central, York and Scotland, and southwest from Bristol to Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance.

Northern Rail warns: “Trains will not run between Barrow-in-Furness and Carlisle on Sunday 9 February.

“There will be no alternative road transport available in either direction.”

In Scotland, the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Fort William and the route from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh will be suspended from early afternoon on Sunday to 12 noon on Monday.”

People living close to railway lines have been urged to keep the railway free of any unexpected debris.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “With 80mph winds predicted for much of the country, anything from trees to trampolines could be strewn across the tracks.”

On the ferries, Irish Sea and English Channel services will be badly affected. P&O Ferries has cancelled its Saturday afternoon services between Cairnryan in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland.

The ferry line said: “Due to Storm Ciara, the 1.30pm and 4.30pm departures have just been cancelled. We will accommodate all passengers on our 8pm sailing.”​

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