Storm Dennis: Millions face another weekend of travel chaos as trains and flights cancelled

British Airways has already cancelled 40 Heathrow flights on Saturday afternoon and evening

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 14 February 2020 18:03 GMT
UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

After the Met Office strengthened its amber and yellow warning of strong winds and heavy rain this weekend, many transport operators are warning of disruption as Storm Dennis sweeps in from the Atlantic.

British Airways has already cancelled 40 short-haul flights to and from Heathrow on Saturday afternoon and evening. The routes to Amsterdam, Glasgow are worst affected.

BA’s partner, Iberia, has grounded a round-trip from Madrid to Heathrow. Lufthansa has cancelled evening flights to Frankfurt and Munich. Virgin Atlantic’s evening flight from Heathrow to Boston is grounded.

British Airways is offering all passengers booked on flights in or out of Heathrow, Gatwick or London City airports on Saturday 15 February the chance to rebook to another day up to Wednesday 19 February.

Last Sunday, BA cancelled more than 200 flights because of Storm Ciara.

Network Rail has already imposed speed restrictions that will delay trains and lead to some cancellations.

A blanket 50mph limit reduces the risk of trains hitting objects on the tracks, from fallen trees to stray trampolines.

LNER, which runs trains on the East Coast main line from London King's Cross to Yorkshire, Newcastle and Scotland, said: “Speed restrictions will be in place across our network and we are running a reduced service on both days.

“As a result, there may be extended journey times, short-notice delays and cancellations.”

In addition, engineering work at its London hub will lead to extended journeys.

The train operator added: “We expect services to be extremely busy throughout the weekend, so we are encouraging customers with LNER tickets dated for travel on Saturday 15 or Sunday 16 February, to defer travel to Monday where possible.

Transport for Wales (TfW) warned: “Network Rail will be imposing a speed restriction across much of the rail network in Wales.”

TfW services have not yet returned to normal after last weekend’s storm. The mid-Wales line from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli is currently not running, and buses are replacing trains on the Conwy Valley line south from Llandudno.

Engineering works are already planned to cut services on GWR and Transport for Wales between Port Talbot Parkway and Swansea. Services between London Paddington and South Wales will run only once an hour.

Specific speed restrictions elsewhere in the country will slow journeys between Cambridge and King’s Lynn from 6pm on Saturday and all day on Sunday; in Kent between Folkestone and Deal (via Dover) and between Tonbridge and Hastings from 10pm on Saturday to 2pm on Sunday.

To compound travellers’ problems, the line between London Victoria station at Gatwick airport will be closed all day on Sunday.

The Met Office chief meteorologist, Steve Willington, said: “Storm Dennis will bring another very unsettled spell of weather this weekend with a risk of flooding, particularly in parts of England and Wales and also southern Scotland, where snowmelt will add to the flood risk.

“Following Storm Ciara last weekend and further spells of rain this week, the ground is already saturated in places.

“There is a risk of significant impacts from flooding, including damage to property and a danger to life from fast flowing floodwater.”

The heaviest downpours are expected in Devon, southern England between Wiltshire and west Kent, much of Wales, the north Pennines and the Scottish Borders.

Caroline Douglass, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Never drive or walk through flood water. Just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car – it’s not worth the risk.”

Gales are also predicted across the UK. The deputy chief meteorologist, Laura Ellam, warned: “On Saturday the strongest winds will be across England and Wales, and on Sunday the strongest winds will be across Northern Ireland, Scotland, and parts of northern England and north Wales, with coastal gales of 70mph at times.”

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