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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 18:34 GMT
Storms cause UK transport woes
Queue of traffic
The Old Severn Bridge was closed due to high winds
Storms affecting parts of the UK have hit transport systems, including road, rail, sea and air services.

British Airways had to cancel a number of short-haul flights at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and has advised passengers to check before travelling.

High winds meant speed restrictions were put in place on some rail lines, while flooding caused lane closures on the M25 in Surrey.

Ferry services to France, Spain and the Irish Republic have also been hit.

Below is a summary of some of the key services affected.

ROADS AND BRIDGES

The Automobile Association (AA) said it was on course for its busiest day of the year so far. It predicted 16,000 call-outs by the end of Monday - 6,500 above normal.

As well as breakdowns, rescue staff were called out to deal with cars that had been damaged by falling branches, or stuck on flooded roads.

A spokesman warned against driving too fast in windy conditions: "A 60mph gust creates four times the force of a 30mph wind, and combined with rain and spray, driving at speed could be perilous for unwary drivers."

Snow fell in north-east England and parts of Scotland, with snow ploughs out on some roads.

It was expected to turn to heavy rain later on Monday. Early flurries, coupled with driving winds, caused treacherous conditions on the A66 between Co Durham and Cumbria.

The Tamar Bridge, which runs between Devon and Cornwall, has been closed to high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes.

The Old Severn Bridge was also closed due to high winds, but one lane later reopened.

Flooding caused two lanes of the M25 to be closed in Surrey and the Highways Agency reported heavy traffic on the rest of the road.

In Scotland, motorists using the Skye, Kessock and Erskine bridges have been warned to drive with caution, while speed restrictions were in place on the Forth Road Bridge.

Dumfries and Galloway Police warned low level or low lying shoreline roads and paths may be at risk of flooding along the Solway Coast on Monday afternoon.

Operation Stack

Meanwhile, Kent Police implemented Operation Stack to ease the backlog of traffic at the county's ports and borders.

Police closed junctions eight to nine of the coastbound section of the M20 and advised motorists to avoid the area unless their journey was absolutely necessary.

The traffic backlog was being made worse by the continuing strike of SeaFrance workers.

The A466 Tintern Road in Gwent, south Wales, was closed because there was a risk of flooding.

The Sheppey Crossing is closed, although the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford has now reopened, said Kent Police.

Eurotunnel operations between Folkestone and Calais were unaffected, although many of those hit by the Dover port closure have been switching to the Channel Tunnel shuttle service.

A Eurotunnel spokesman advised travellers to leave a good deal of time to get there because the M20 in Kent would be very busy.

RAIL

National Rail said train operators CrossCountry, First Great Western, South West Trains, Southern and c2c were affected.

Services are near normal on most routes, following line blockages and speed restrictions during the morning, but timetable changes, cancellations and delays should still be expected, they said.

A 50mph speed limit is in force on some railway lines and there are severe delays to some London trains because of weather disruption in Surrey.

c2c services are being diverted via Grays/Rainham, Essex, with replacement bus services operating between Upminster and Pitsea in both directions.

A shuttle train service is also in operation between Laindon and Pitsea in both directions. A normal train service is expected to return by about 1600 GMT on Monday.

An obstruction on the line between Looe and Liskeard, Cornwall, is affecting First Great Western trains, with a replacement bus services running in both directions.

And speed restrictions have been imposed in the Weymouth, Bournemouth & Southampton areas, affecting CrossCountry, First Great Western, Southern & South West Trains.

Timetable changes and delays of up to 30 minutes are expected.

South West Trains services between London Waterloo and Weymouth are starting from and terminating at Bournemouth, with an hourly shuttle train service operating between Bournemouth and Weymouth in both directions.

SEA

After winds of up to 80mph were recorded in the English Channel, the Port of Dover was closed twice during the day. It has now reopened, but the sea is still very rough, with winds gusting to force nine.

Speedferries' fastcraft sailings from the Hoverport to Boulogne were also experiencing delays, said a Dover port spokesman.

P&O Ferries cancelled a Sunday sailing from Portsmouth to Bilbao, northern Spain, and has already cancelled another from Bilbao to Portsmouth on 11 March.

In Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne said ferry services between Colintraive and Rhubodach, Isle of Bute, and connections between the mainland and the islands of Arran and Islay were disrupted.

Irish Ferries services between Holyhead and Dublin, and from Pembroke to Rosslare, were cancelled on Monday, and Tuesday's sailings could also be affected.

Stena Line Ferries said morning crossings between Rosslare and Fishguard, and Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead, were cancelled. A spokesman said they hoped there would be sailings on Monday evening.

AIR

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street appointments were caught up in the travel chaos.

Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico was forced to cancel a visit to No 10 after his flight was scrapped because of the bad weather.

British Airways had to cancel a number of short-haul flights at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and said it was likely there would be delays to all services.

Flybe also cancelled some services at Gatwick.

Both Heathrow and Gatwick advised passengers to check their flight details before travelling to the airport.

BA said air traffic controllers were limiting the number of air movements that can take place at any one time, which is "normal" in severe weather.

Some flights were being diverted to Birmingham International airport.

Winds of more than 50mph caused all ground operations at Bristol International Airport to be suspended between 0400 and 0600 GMT, which led to delays when the first flights took to the air later in the morning.

A spokesman said they still expected every one of Monday's 100 planned flights to depart.

Cardiff Airport said the weather had not affected any flights.

The British Airports Authority (BAA) said that flights in Scotland were also being disrupted by strong winds.

A number of flights between Glasgow and London were cancelled or delayed. Passengers at Edinburgh airport also experienced delays.



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