UK & World News
Floods Cause Major Problems On Rail Routes
Gale force winds and torrential rain have taken their toll on the nation's rail network with damaged track and collapsed embankments threatening continued misery for train travellers.
A number of train operators have reported major delays on routes from Hampshire and Berkshire, to North Wales, Somerset, and Devon.
And repairs on some lines could take weeks or even months according to Network Rail, which is responsible for the track.
While it says it is doing all it can to fix damaged lines, Network Rail admits more storms may bring additional problems, especially as embankments and track are already heavily waterlogged.
A landslip at Botley in Hampshire means trains cannot run between Eastleigh and Fareham.
An 80-metre section of embankment collapsed following torrential rain, and the line is expected to to be closed for most of February while repairs are carried out.
In the meantime, trains between London Waterloo and Portsmouth via Eastleigh are being diverted.
Landslips are also causing major disruption on South Eastern trains between Tonbridge and Hastings in Kent, where the line is expected to be out of commission for at least a week, while engineers fix the damage.
And there are rail problems following a landslip at Oxted in Surrey.
In North Wales, following damage to the railway caused by storms and flooding, the line is currently closed between Barmouth and Pwllheli. A replacement bus service is operating between these stations.
Railway engineers are undertaking repairs at a number of locations, including Tywyn, Barmouth and Criccieth, which are expected to take several months.
And a landslip near Caersws means trains cannot run to Machynlleth.
On South West Trains there are no trains between Staines and Windsor & Eton Riverside, due to flooding along the River Thames in Datchet, near Windsor, in Berkshire.
The line is not expected to re-open until Thursday, February 13, at the earliest.
A replacement bus service is running but because of poor road conditions they are unable to call at Wraysbury, Sunnymeads and Datchet.
There is also disruption caused by flooding between Oxford and Didcot Parkway, with CrossCountry trains suspended and a replacement road service in place.
First Great Western will operate on the line but trains will not call at Culham or Appleford.
CrossCountry and FGW will also not run any trains between Bridgwater and Taunton due to flood waters, while disruption continues on the main line into Cornwall with the track being closed at Dawlish in Devon, due to storm damage.
Limited services have resumed between Waterloo and Exeter.
It came as a passenger group claimed Network Rail has "long been in complete denial" about the vulnerability of the sea wall at Dawlish.
The severing of the mainline to the far South West has had a major impact on rail services, and concerns have been raised about the impact of the closure on the economy of the area, with repairs expected to take at least six weeks.
The rail passenger watchdog TravelWatch SouthWest said Network Rail thought it could "engineer its way" out of the problem but that "nature knows better".
A passenger group report in 2004 had recommended the opening of a diversionary rail route to ensure against problems at Dawlish.
The watchdog added that "for too long the Whitehall view of the South West has ended at Bristol" and unless investment was made there would be "a significant and long-lasting negative impact on the economies of Devon and Cornwall".
Responding to the criticism, Network Rail said: "Our focus today and the weeks ahead is to repair damage to the railway as quickly as possible and re-establish the rail connection for the communities of Devon and Cornwall
"It is right to look at what the alternatives look like and we will take forward a professional study on this once the current situation is resolved, engaging business, local authorities, communities and the rail industry in the advantages and disadvantages of alternate routes."