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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Simon Calder

Travel misery drags on with Tube strikes to follow widespread flooding

Simon Calder

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers in southern England face further disruption throughout Friday after many were stranded by closures of rail lines on Thursday evening.

The worst-affected region was Great Western, where a ‘Do Not Travel’ notice was issued for anyone hoping to travel west of Reading. It followed a fatality on the railway, which closed the main line west as a police investigation took place.

“If possible, please return in your direction of travel and make alternative arrangements,” passengers were told. On Friday morning Great Western Railway (GWR) said: “Disruption is expected until at least midday as trains and staff are in the wrong place following the disruption.”

But National Rail is predicting worse for many GWR passengers, saying: “Disruption is expected until the end of the day and you may not be able to complete your journey.”

Flooding is affecting eight locations served by GWR, including Bedwyn, Newbury and Castle Cary on the London-Exeter line. Many other trains are being cancelled, including on the main line between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads.

Have a question about the Tube strikes? Ask Simon Calder anything from alternative travel plans to refunds here

South Western Railway is warning of “major disruption” on most of its lines between London Waterloo, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Devon.

The train operator said: “Train services running across the whole South Western Railway network may be cancelled, delayed or revised. Disruption is expected until the end of the day.”

The company blamed “significant rainfall and multiple incidents of flooding across our network, as well as a landslip” on Thursday.

“The sheer amount of rain falling on already wet and waterlogged areas, so close after Storm Henk earlier this week, meant that in many locations we were unable to run trains as it would not have been safe to do so.

“Whilst we expect water levels to drop and most of the network to reopen today, we will not be able to operate services between Yeovil Junction and Exeter because of a landslip near Crewkerne. Disruption to the rest of our network is expected to last throughout today due to displaced trains and crews.”

Elsewhere landslips are causing problems for commuters. Network Rail staff discovered a landslip near Maidstone East in Kent while working overnight, with the line from Ashford to London Victoria disrupted.

At Robertsbridge in East Sussex, a landslip has closed the line from Hastings via Battle to Tunbridge Wells.

Ahead of the latest strike by members of the RMT union working for London Underground, train travellers are warned of disruption to National Rail services on top of the likely closure of the Tube network.

Underground passengers are being urged to complete journeys by 5.30pm on Sunday 7 January, ahead of four full days of strikes. The Tube is expected to reopen fully by lunchtime on Friday 12 January.

Because many lines around London share tracks between the Underground and National Rail, there will a series of closures affecting overground travellers and those on the Elizabeth Line.

The Elizabeth Line could see a late start and early finish at stations between Bond Street and Whitechapel during the strike, with passengers told: “Stations may have to close at short notice, and trains will run through affected stations without stopping. Please check before you travel.”

The key interchange with Thameslink trains at Farringdon station may be closed early in the morning and late in the evening.

Chiltern Railways will not run between London Marylebone and Great Missenden for much of the week.

Great Northern trains between Moorgate and Finsbury Park will start later or not run at all.

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