Storm Eunice wreaks havoc with transport networks

Storm Eunice wreaks havoc with transport networks
Train operators across Britain urged passengers to avoid travelling on Friday as an emergency 50mph speed restriction is in place in many areas.

People are being urged to postpone travel plans as Storm Eunice wreaks havoc with transport networks.

Train operators across Britain have urged passengers to avoid travelling on Friday as emergency 50mph speed limits are in place in many areas.

This is to make it easier for train drivers to brake if they spot objects on the track or damage to overhead wires caused by strong winds.

No trains will operate in Wales for the entire day.

That means Great Western Railway services from London Paddington are terminating at Bristol Parkway instead of continuing to Swansea.

Among the firms advising customers not to travel on Friday are Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Great Northern, London North Eastern Railway, Southern and Thameslink.

Network Rail staff worked to reopen lines hit by Storm Dudley earlier this week.

Roads were also treacherous on Friday.

Several bridges were closed, including the M48 Severn Bridge which links southern England and Wales, and the Britannia Bridge, which connects the island of Anglesey with mainland Wales.

The RAC said the number of call-outs to broken-down vehicles was lower than normal, indicating that many people were “taking the weather warnings seriously and not setting out”.

It added: “The fact many roads are so clear is a sign that today is not a safe day to be driving.”

At Heathrow Airport on Friday, at least 65 flights – both departures and arrivals – were cancelled and a further 114 were delayed by more than 15 minutes, according to aviation data provider FlightStats by Cirium.

At Gatwick there were 15 cancellations and 67 delayed flights.

Motorists drive through sleet and snow along the M8 near Bathgate in West Lothian (Jane Barlow/PA)
Motorists drive through sleet and snow along the M8 near Bathgate in West Lothian (Jane Barlow/PA)

EasyJet said it has cancelled a “small number of flights” from UK airports on Friday.

Many flights are struggling to land.

Passengers on easyJet flight EJU8014 from Bordeaux to London Gatwick endured two aborted landings before their plane was put in a holding pattern over the south coast and then forced to return to the French city.

It touched down back at its starting point more than three hours after it departed.

The airline told passengers: “We’re very sorry that your flight has now been diverted back to Bordeaux.

“This is due to poor weather conditions in London Gatwick, which are below safe operating limits.”

British Airways said restrictions on the number of aircraft that can take-off and land at the airport are causing “significant disruption”, with dozens of flights cancelled.

A spokesman said: “Safety is always our priority and we’re encouraging customers to check the latest flight information on ba.com before heading to the airport.”

Flight BA296 from Chicago to London Heathrow was diverted to Geneva, Switzerland.

Ferry operator P&O Ferries suspended its Dover-Calais sailings “until further notice”.

A spokesman said: “We expect this to be the case for most of the day and we will provide further information when possible.

“We strongly advise our customers not to travel to the Port of Dover today.”

Several ferry services due to sail across the Irish Sea were cancelled.

In Dorset, the Sandbanks ferry between Poole and Studland has been suspended.

Transport for London urged people to avoid non-essential journeys in the capital.

A spokeswoman said: “We are doing all we can to ensure we are prepared for any impact, with extra staff ready to respond quickly to any incidents, but some services will be affected by the extreme weather.

“We are also urging Londoners to please take care if they travel around the city.”