Storm Eunice hits travellers across Britain

National Highways closed major bridges and a number of roads on the strategic network on Friday morning, while rail services were expected to be significantly disrupted across England, Scotland and Wales.

The warnings mean the public should expect that roads, bridges and railway lines will be closed, with delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights.

Amber and Yellow warnings covering other parts of the UK were issued for Friday.

The National Rail Enquiries website said on Friday that Storm Eunice was likely to affect journeys across most of England, Wales and southern Scotland. Transport for Wales said it had decided jointly with Network Rail Wales to suspend all rail services in the country.

Scotrail said it did not expect the same level of disruption as was caused by Storm Dudley on Friday but that it was preparing for forecast snow and low temperatures.

Many train operators in England also reported disruption on Friday. Avanti West Coast was one of a number of operators who advised passengers on Thursday to avoid travel on Friday, pledging to honour tickets on Thursday or Saturday instead.

However it subsequently warned passengers travelling between England and Scotland not to travel on Thursday as the line was blocked at Beattock north of Lockerbie by trees falling onto overhead cables.

National Highways issued its own red alerts and advised drivers to ‘take care and be prepared for strong gales’.

It advised motorists, particularly those driving high-sided HGVS, caravans and motorcycles, to check the weather and driving conditions before setting out on journeys and pay particular attention to exposed locations such as coastal and high lying areas and bridges which could be affected by the high winds.

The government-owned company closed the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at the Dartford Crossing on Friday morning, implementing a contraflow whereby southbound traffic is diverted via the east tunnel with the west tunnel remaining open to northbound traffic.

The Orwell Bridge near Ipswich was also closed, as was the M48 Severn Bridge. National Highways said it also expected to have to close the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge on Friday morning. A number of roads were also closed, including the A66 between the M6 and the A1(M).

National Highways head of service delivery Sean Martell said: ‘We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys and consider if their journey is necessary and can be delayed until conditions improve. If you do intend to travel, then plan your trip and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey.’

RAC director of central operations Matt Dallaway said on Friday morning: 'Early indications are that most people are taking the weather warnings seriously and not setting out. The fact many roads are so clear is a sign that today is not a safe day to be driving.

'We continue to urge drivers not to set out unless they absolutely have to. Just because the wind might not be that strong now, doesn’t mean it won’t be soon. As the storm moves east and inland, the risk of disruption from floods, falling trees and flying debris will increase making conditions extremely hazardous.

' For anyone that does need to drive, it’s vital to be vigilant, and to slow down and leave extra space behind the vehicle in front and keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel.'

Live updates for the strategic road network are available at nationalhighways.co.uk/travel-updates/travel-alerts.

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