Rail passengers are being warned of further travel disruption after Storm Eunice hit the country.
The warning came as Network Rail engineers worked to clear trees and debris from railway lines after Storm Dudley brought gusts of 90mph overnight. With just a few hours calm between the storms, specialist teams worked all day to clear up after Dudley after trees were brought down in multiple locations.
With Storm Eunice forecast to be even more ferocious, passengers were warned that journeys will face disruption. Network Rail imposed blanket safety speed restrictions – 50mph in most places – on the main rail lines across the country, with winds as high as 90mph in some areas.
Meanwhile in Wales all services were set to be suspended because of the storm's expected severity. Passengers were advised to check with their individual train operator for their latest travel advice.
Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “With such strong winds expected from Storm Eunice we know that disruption to passengers’ journeys was inevitable and we strongly recommend people not to travel. Rapid response remains on standby to clear routes impacted by the bad weather to keep train passengers safe.”
Paul Watson, operations director for TransPennine Express, said: “Storm Eunice is the second storm to impact our services this week and was always likely to cause major disruption to train services – especially right across the North of England and into Scotland.
“The most important thing is that our customers and staff are kept safe, and we urged customers not to travel by train. We are instead asking customers to make their journeys today (Saturday 19 February).
“The situation with the weather is changing all the time, and customers should continue to check our website or National Rail Enquires for the latest information.”
Chris Jackson, regional director for Northern, said: “Storms were expected to cause widespread disruption across the rail network over the coming days. As such, there are a number of planned cancellations.
“Our focus remains on getting people to where they need to be safely across our network. Passengers are advised to check as close to departure as possible for the latest information as this will be a changing picture.”
Richard Scott, director of corporate affairs for Avanti West Coast, said: “Storm Eunice means we’re operating an amended timetable and journeys will take a lot longer due to speed restrictions.
“We strongly recommended customers to travel today (Saturday 19th February). Anyone who doesn’t want to travel can get a full refund. We’re still monitoring the weather closely and advise customers to check before they travel.”
John Robson, CrossCountry regional director North West and West Midlands, said: “Storm Eunice was expected to cause significant disruption to services across our network today.
“We’re running a much reduced service and journey times will take longer as blanket speed restrictions – 50mph in most places – are imposed for safety reasons across large swathes of the UK. We strongly advise that customers avoid travel and re-plan their journey for another day.
“We will be assessing the service that can be offered for the rest of the weekend once we have further details about the extent of the storm. Full information can be found on our website.”
Greg Suligowski, head of customer strategy for Merseyrail, said: "With strong winds forecasted disruptions to services were expected.
"Passengers were advised not to travel unless necessary and to prepare alternative transport for the afternoon in case services can no longer run, as it is unlikely rail replacement busses will be able to operate.”
Matt Stacey, head of stations at East Midlands Railway, said: “We strongly advise customers who need to make a journey with us in the next few days to choose another day. The strength of Storm Eunice means that there was likely to be widespread disruption to services across the country’s rail network.
"However, we understand that not everyone can rearrange their travel plans and customers may still need to travel by rail. If this is the case, we suggest customers leave themselves plenty of extra time to reach their destination.”
Network Rail and train operators are working together to keep people safe. Additional engineers are out across the network to react to problems and are checking all affected lines for damage before reintroducing services as quickly as possible.