Urgent travel alert issued for rail users in North West

Rail chiefs are warning passengers to only travel if they absolutely have to this Sunday as the region braces itself for Storm Ciara.

Emergency weather action teams are on standby to respond to any disruption caused by the adverse weather with winds of up to 80mph expected along the West Coast Main Line and across the North West.

Trampoline blown on to the West Coast Main Line

Trampoline blown on to the West Coast Main Line

With the high risk of trees or other debris being be blown on to the railway speed restrictions of 50mph are being put in place across the network on Sunday.

Those passengers who do have to travel are being advised to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk and with their train operators to see how their journeys could be affected.

Some train operators may allow tickets booked for Sunday to be used on Saturday or Monday and passengers are advised to check with their operators.

Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s strategic operations and passenger director for the North West and Central region, said: “It is rare for us to advise passengers to only travel if necessary, but with the latest forecasts showing how severe Storm Ciara will be, we must prioritise the safety of passengers and railway staff.

“Our teams have been planning for the likelihood that debris will be blown onto tracks and overhead electric wires. We have extra people on the ground at various locations across the region to deal with any disruption. I understand 50mph speed limits on Sunday may be frustrating for some people, but they are a necessary safety precaution when such wild weather is expected.

“I thank passengers in advance for their patience and urge people to check before travelling at www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator.

Business owners and householders neighbouring the railway are also being reminded to secure anything in their gardens and yards which could be blown on to the tracks.

It comes after a trampoline was blown onto the West Coast Main Line last month bringing disruption to passengers.

Jake added: “In strong winds trampolines become airborne very easily. Our advice is: Please tether these kinds of items. That way you won’t lose them and train passengers’ journeys won’t be disrupted.

“We’re appealing to people living and working by the railway to ensure other items, such as gazebos, marquees, empty builders’ sacks, tents and the like are fixed in place, so they don’t end up on the tracks during high winds.”

Meanwhile, highways officials have drafted plans to keep Lancashire moving as Storm Ciaira threatens to hit the county.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for high winds from midday on Saturday throughout Sunday, and a yellow warning for heavy rain from the early hours of Sunday through to 9pm.

The storm brings the potential for disruption to travel as a result of debris and surface water flooding on roads.

The county council’s highway teams are on standby to deal with fallen trees and minimise the impact of floods by diverting traffic and removing storm debris from drains.

External contractors are also available to be called upon to add to the council’s manpower should they be needed.

A county council spokesman said people should report any problems on the roads caused by the storm which do not require an emergency response to the police by calling 101 so they can pass any issues on to highway teams as necessary.

County Coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We’re well prepared for whatever Storm Ciara brings this weekend, ensuring our highway teams are ready to deal with incidents such as blocked roads, as well as any other urgent repairs and maintenance that may be needed.

“I would remind everyone to check the advice issued by the Met Office, and consider whether their plans may be affected. You can also find advice on our website about what to do before, during, and after a flood.

“I’d also ask people to check on any vulnerable friends and relatives who may struggle to get out and about when the weather is bad.

"Rogue traders also often target vulnerable people in the days following a storm by cold calling and offering to carry out unnecessary, overpriced, and shoddy repairs. You can find reputable tradespeople by using our Safe Trader Scheme.”