Road and rail Christmas getaway hit by heavy rain
Motorists were urged to take extra care and avoid driving into standing water.
Heavy rain and flooding is causing chaos for thousands of people embarking on a Christmas getaway.
Road and rail journeys are being disrupted in parts of southern and eastern England on one of the busiest travel days of the year after some areas saw nearly 2in (50mm) of rain in just 36 hours.
Severe Met Office weather warnings for heavy rain indicate that water on roads will cause delays in some areas on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson said: “There could be localised flooding. Stay in touch with the forecast, there could be delays to transport.”
There could be up to 1.2in (30mm) of rain in the south on Saturday, he added.
The village of Cardinham in Cornwall saw 2in (52mm) of rain over 36 hours, while Bastreet Downs got 2.1in (53mm).
Devon and Cornwall Police said flooding across the force area has made “a number of roads impassable”.
They urged motorists to take extra care and avoid driving into standing water.
Norfolk and Suffolk Police said roads in both counties were affected by floodwater.
Rail passengers are being urged not to travel between Brighton and Gatwick Airport due to flooding on the tracks.
Network Rail said heavy rain has caused significant flooding on the Brighton main line, with water “completely submerging the rails in some areas”.
Engineers are on site and attempting to remove floodwater where possible.
Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services are affected.
— Network Rail Kent and Sussex (@NetworkRailSE) December 20, 2019
We have a lot of water at Balcombe, but our engineers are on the case and clearing a crest drain of debris which should allow the water to flow away faster. We will keep you updated, but please continue to check with @SouthernRailUK @TLRailUK & @GatwickExpress pic.twitter.com/ol98Wh9SJT
The operators warned that replacement buses are being “heavily disrupted due to ongoing road traffic conditions”.
A landslip near Guildford is causing major disruption to South Western Railway and Great Western Railway services.
No Southeastern trains were able to run between Maidstone West and Strood due to a tree on the line and a landslip.
The Environment Agency said it was monitoring the situation and the public were advised to remain vigilant.
Some 58 flood warnings – where flooding is expected – are in place for England, alongside 201 flood alerts, which warn flooding is possible.
An RAC survey suggested 4.7 million leisure trips by car would be taken on Friday, as many people embark on the Christmas getaway.
Three stretches of motorway identified as having the longest expected delays were:
– M6 north J5 Sutton Coldfield to J10A Wolverhampton (delays of 57 minutes)
– M25 clockwise J15 for M4 to J19 Watford (delays of 46 minutes)
– M1 south J16 Northampton West to J6 Watford (delays of 43 minutes)
Motorists were advised to delay journeys on major roads until after 8pm to avoid the worst of the traffic.