Network Rail and train operators across the East Midlands are urging passengers to check their individual journeys before they travel on Sunday, February 9, as severe weather is forecast, including winds of up to 80mph and heavy rain brought by Storm Ciara throughout the weekend.
High wind speeds can cause damage to overhead line equipment, which is used to power trains on the East Coast Main Line. If this equipment becomes damaged, it can cause severe disruption for passengers. To try and minimise the impact the wind will have on the railway, speed restrictions of 50mph have been imposed along routes in the area.
The speed restrictions reduce the chance of overhead line equipment becoming damaged. However, this does mean that fewer services are able to run, and those which do run will take longer than usual. Severe disruption to services is expected and passengers should check with their train operator before they travel.
Strong gusts of wind can also lead to potential obstructions on the tracks, such as debris or fallen trees. Network Rail and train operators will have extra staff on hand right across the region to protect the railway and provide support for passengers, but severe disruption is expected. People who live near the railway are also encouraged to clear away garden furniture or trampolines.
There is already an amended service on both the East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line this weekend. Services to and from London Kings Cross have been reduced as work continues on the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade. On the Midland Main Line, the railway is closed between Bedford and Market Harborough with rail replacement coaches running instead.
Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail, said: “We are well prepared for Storm Ciara and have extra teams working to allow as many trains as possible to run.
“There are essential speed restrictions in place, but I would like to reassure passengers that we are working closely with train operators and doing all that we can to keep them moving this weekend.
“We strongly advise passengers to allow plenty of time for their journeys, and to check before they travel via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator.”
Hill Holt Wood and Big Wood in North Kesteven will be closed on Sunday due to high winds predicted.
○ The Met Office has issued several National Severe Weather Warnings for strong winds and heavy rain brought by Storm Ciara throughout the weekend, including an Amber warning for southeast England on Sunday. A yellow wind warning has been issued for north-western parts of the UK on Saturday, followed by a yellow wind warning covering the whole UK on Sunday. Named by the Met Office on Wednesday, Storm Ciara is currently tracking 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 to 60 mph are expected quite widely across inland areas, with even stronger gusts of 80mph or higher along coastal areas, especially in southeast England and northern Scotland.”
Storm Ciara is expected to bring a range of impacts including delays and cancellations to air, ferry and train services, damage to buildings such as tiles blown from roofs and there is a good chance power cuts may occur, as well as large coastal waves and difficult driving conditions in heavy rain.
Guy Addington, Regional Water Safety Lead at the RNLI said: “This rough weather could making visiting our coasts around the UK and Ireland treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions. Sadly, around 150 people accidentally lose their lives around UK and Irish waters each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.
“If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.”
Looking further ahead, Chief Meteorologist Frank Saunders said: “In the wake of Storm Ciara, it’ll remain unsettled and very windy across the UK and it’ll turn colder with wintry showers and ice an additional hazard, as we head into the new week.”