NO TRAINS will run in Wales tomorrow – Friday, February 18 – as a result of Storm Eunice.
The Met Office has issued a rare red weather warning for parts of the country – including Newport and much of Gwent, with a huge amount of disruption expected.
And, as a result, railways bosses are taking no chances, opting to halt all trains in Wales for the entire day, during the worst of the storm.
The decision, which has been made on public safety grounds, is likely to lead to a great deal of disruption for passengers on Friday, and into the weekend, with further delays and cancellations likely.
Network Rail confirmed that the decision has been made ahead of forecasted gusts of up to 100mph in some areas.
While trains are out of service, more than 1,000 miles of track will be checked, and cleared of debris.
Though this is mainly expected to be fallen trees and branches, items are also likely to be blown onto the tracks during such periods of poor weather.
It is understood that just yesterday, an unsecured trampoline blew onto the railway line just a short distance away from Cardiff Central Railway Station.
Railway disruption: What can we expect?
It is anticipated that winds of up to 100mph could hit the most westerly parts of Wales, around the Pembrokeshire coastline, while winds of between 60 and 80mph could impact inland across Wales and the borders area – including Newport and Gwent.
Due to the level of extreme weather expected, rail replacement services will not be able to operate as the road network will also be disrupted.
Transport for Wales is allowing passengers with tickets for tomorrow to travel today or over the weekend, if services have resumed by then. Original tickets will still be valid for these journeys.
GWR is also allowing passengers to travel on alternative days with tickets valid today through to and including Monday, February 21.
Avanti West Coast passengers with tickets for Friday can use their tickets today or on Saturday, February 19.
The decision has been made jointly by Network Rail and train operators with the safety of passengers and railway staff in mind.
What has been said about the news?
Bill Kelly, Network Rail Wales and Borders route director, said: “The decision to temporarily close the railway in Wales has not been made lightly but the safety of passengers and staff is our top priority.
“Storm Eunice is expected to bring extreme high winds of up to 100mph and in places it is very likely trees and debris will be blown onto train lines.
“We are sorry for the disruption caused by closing the railway and we will continue to work hard, along with our train operator colleagues, to get train services back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Passengers who are planning to travel over the weekend are strongly advised to check before they travel as the unpredictable nature of storms such as Storm Eunice means the impact on services can change quickly.”
Martyn Brennan, operations director at Transport for Wales, said: “The safety of our customers and our colleagues sits at the very heart of what we do and for this reason, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend all TfW services Friday until it is safe to re-open. The extreme weather forecast for Storm Eunice is very concerning, so we are strongly advising people not to attempt to travel during this time as services will not be operating.
“For those who have already purchased a ticket to travel during Storm Eunice, they can choose to either travel today, Thursday 17th, on Saturday 19th or on Sunday 20th. Alternatively, customers can claim a full refund in the normal way. I would like to thank customers for their understanding and support.”
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “Speed restrictions will be put in place on our network, but the extent of those restrictions can only be determined by conditions on the ground and are likely to change throughout the day.
“We will continue to run as many trains as we can but those who need to travel should be aware that we will have to reduce the number of trains we can run, journey times will take longer, and those trains we can run will be much busier.
“Please do heed the usual advice to check before you travel.”