Millions of travellers preparing for the Christmas getaway are being warned to expect delays on the roads and railways as strong winds and heavy rain are expected across Britain tomorrow.

At least 27 rail networks are expected to be affected by the weather on Mondaywith gusts of up to 60mph likely nearly everywhere in the afternoon, possibly reaching 80mph later in the day in some areas.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for the day, and motorists are being told to brace for problems – particularly those heading to the southwest of England and parts of Scotland.

The Cumbrian Coast Line between Carlisle and Barrow is already shut due to a landslide, while flooding has closed part of the line in Crowborough.

Cumbrian Police are urging people to take extra care and be prepared for flooding caused by heavy rain.

The Highways Agency, in conjunction with the Met Office, is advising drivers of high-sided or other vehicles vulnerable to high winds to avoid several roads including the M4 from junctions 22 to 23 and the M5 from junctions 18 to 19.

John McTaggart, head of on-road services at the Agency, said: “We are working closely with the Met Office to monitor conditions ahead of tomorrow.

“Road users are urged to check traffic and weather conditions before setting out on journeys and to heed any advice such as speed restrictions once they are on the strategic road network.

“Be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space.

“In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close certain bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow the clearly signed diversion routes. “

Arriva Trains Wales, c2C,  Chiltern Railways , Cross Country, First Capital Connect and trains to Heathrow Airport are all expected to be affected.

Virgin Trains said delays were “likely” but that tickets dated for travel on Sunday or Monday would be accepted for travel “on any train on either day”.

Approximately two trains per hour are expected to run between Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and all other stations into London St Pancras International from noon on Monday.

Rail operators say passengers with tickets for trains tomorrow should travel today if possible. East Midlands Trains have confirmed that anyone with ticket for tomorrow may travel today. Advance ticket holders may also travel on services earlier than the time specified on the ticket.

The Environment Agency say flood alerts are in place in several areas across the country  and motorists are advised to contact the Highways Agency if roads start to flood with a build-up of surface water. The RAC is predicting that 13 million people will take to the roads from December 24 to 26.

Sky News Weather Presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said: “Very strong winds are expected [on Monday] as the deep area of low pressure across the southwest moves northwards past the Western Isles of Scotland.

“Gusts are expected to reach 60mph almost everywhere during the afternoon. During the evening and overnight, wind gusts may reach 70-80mph across central and south-eastern parts of England.

“Heavy rain is also expected to spread eastwards to most of the UK during the afternoon and overnight. So it will be a very wet and very windy day for all areas.”

The worst of the weather is expected to clear by the end of Christmas Eve.


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