BRITS have been warned not to travel by train on Sunday as Storm Ciara is set to smash the country with 80mph winds.
Network Rail has warned widespread disruption to travel including reduced train services and speed restrictions due to the weather.
Strong winds could damage overhead electric wires and tracks if debris and trees fall onto tracks.
The disruptions may continue into Monday if repair work on the lines is effected.
Network Rail has urged people living near railways to brace themselves for the conditions by tying down their garden furniture and trampolines.
Passengers travelling on Sunday and Monday morning are also urged to check for updates before they travel.
Network Rail’s Strategic Operations and Passenger Director, Jake Kelly, said: “It is rare for us to advise passengers to only travel if necessary, but with the latest forecasts showing how severe Storm Ciara will be, we must prioritise the safety of passengers and railway staff.
“Our teams have been planning for the likelihood that debris will be blown onto tracks and overhead electric wires. We have extra people on the ground at various locations across the region to deal with any disruption.”
The Met Office has predicted disruption to flights, trains and ferries as well as damage to buildings and a “good chance” of power cuts over the weekend.
It issued a series of severe weather alerts, including an amber warning for south-east England on Sunday.
Yellow warnings have been issued for north-western parts of the UK on Saturday, followed by the whole of the UK on Sunday.
Storm Ciara was named by the Met Office on Wednesday and is moving eastwards towards the UK and Ireland.
Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders said: “Storm Ciara will bring damaging winds and heavy rain across the UK this weekend and we have issued a range of severe weather warnings giving people time to prepare for potential impacts of the storm.
“Winds will increase through Saturday across Northern Ireland, Scotland, northern England and Wales, before turning very windy across the rest of UK through the early hours of Sunday morning.
“Gusts of 50-60mph are expected quite widely across inland areas, with even stronger gusts of 80mph or higher along coastal areas, especially in south-east England and northern Scotland.”
RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “You have a recipe for some treacherous driving conditions.
“We strongly recommend drivers reduce their speed and leave plenty of space between their vehicle and those around them, and be particular careful when passing high-sided vehicles when the potential for strong crosswinds could blow them off course.”
CIARA ‘WORST SINCE 2013’
Residents have been warned to expect flooding of homes and businesses and delays to bus and train services.
Power lines could be downed and coastal routes and sea fronts blasted by large waves.
Rain warnings are in place on Sunday for south and north Wales, Cumbria and Lancashire, southern Scotland and Northern Ireland with up to 80mm of rain (3.1 inches) expected.
The average rainfall in South Wales for the whole of February is 85mm (3.3 inches).
Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said: “It is going to be more significant than the other two storms we have seen this season.
“In terms of widespread effect, the last one it is on a par with was in 2013. Everybody will feel some effects from it.”
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