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Floods cause misery for travellers

Rail passengers and motorists endured further travel misery on Monday with train services disrupted and many roads closed by flooding.

To add to commuters' difficulties, there were signal failures on some national rail services as well as late-running engineering work which also affected the Tube.

West Country train services were, once again, among the worst hit in the country.

In Devon, a landslip at Honiton and flooding at Axminster meant that buses had to replace trains between Exeter St David's and Yeovil Junction, and flooding led to no trains being able to run between Tiverton Parkway and Exeter St David's.

Buses also had to replace trains between Exeter St David's and Barnstaple and between Liskeard and Looe in Cornwall. A tree on the line meant that a bus replacement service also had to run between Truro and Falmouth Docks in Cornwall.

Buses replaced trains between Bristol Parkway and Patchway and the First Great Western train company had to axe today's sleeper services.

Flooding also caused disruption between Bangor and Holyhead in North Wales. Buses had to replace trains between Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.

Many London-bound rush-hour train travellers were held up by an obstruction on the line at Coulsdon in Surrey. This affected services run by the Southern, First Capital Connect and Gatwick Express train companies.

East Midlands Trains passengers experienced delays in the Nottingham area due to a signalling problem, with the Nottingham-Mansfield Woodhouse service suspended.

Elsewhere in Nottinghamshire, a late finish to engineering work led to delays in the Radcliffe area, while on London Underground over-running engineering work meant delays for rush-hour travellers on the Metropolitan line.

Many roads were flooded, with others only barely passable. Some of the worst-hit areas were in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Among towns in these areas where roads had to be closed were Worcester, Evesham, Claines, Stockton on Teme and Tenbury Wells.

Among major routes affected by flooding was the A19 in north east England. Routes in Axminster and Stoke Hill in Devon were also affected.

Trains between London and Sussex were affected by a landslip which caused disruption between Dorking and Holmwood in Surrey.

Buses rather than trains had to run between Horsham and Dorking for those wanted to connect on to London.

There was a reduced service between Horsham in Sussex and Victoria station in London during the morning rush-hour, with some services cancelled.

Brittany Ferries' sailing from Bilbao to Portsmouth was delayed due to the bad weather.

Among roads in northern England affected by flooding were the A668 at West Auckland as well as roads in Crook in north east England and Egremont in Cumbria and Parbold in Lancashire.

In the West Midlands, towns with flooded roads included Castle Bromwich, Midford-on-Avon, Knowle, Kenilworth, Polesworth and Nuneaton.

In Berkshire, there was flooding on routes in Hare Hatch, Winnersh and Lambourn, while Andover in Hampshire and Bathford Hill and Melksham in Wiltshire were also hit.

Somerset roads flooded included some in Cleeve, Othery and West Wick and there was also flooding at Mylor Bridge in Cornwall.

In the wet conditions, there was a slow crawl to work for many rush-hour motorists, with many major routes experiencing jams.

A four-car accident coupled with a spillage on the road led to one lane of the busy M6 being closed near Birmingham.

By 1pm on Monday, the AA had attended more than 7,000 breakdowns, including 161 cars either driven through, or stuck in, flood water.

The biggest concentration of breakdowns was in north east England, while nationally the call-outs were averaging 1,100 an hour.

The AA said it expected to have attended up to 15,000 breakdowns by the end of the day, compared with around 10,500 on a normal Monday.

AA special operations head Darren Burness said: "Unfortunately a minority of drivers continue to have a misplaced confidence in the capability of both their vehicle and their own driving ability.

"Drivers of four-wheel-drive vehicles are not immune from the risks either. So if you enter water that's too deep or too fast, you still risk swamping it and destroying the engine or being swept away."

He went on: "Last night one of our flood rescue crews witnessed a man in Lichfield, Staffordshire, who moved road closure signs and drove recklessly down a flooded road in his 4x4 'for the fun of it'.

"Regardless of the vehicle you're driving and the road conditions, you need the skill and experience to handle it safely, so treat the conditions with respect and stay out of flood water.

"Our flood rescue team use 4x4s but our Land Rovers are specially adapted for the job and are double-crewed with certified water rescue technicians professionally trained in water rescue and 4x4 driving."

On the railways, a fire at Langley Green in the West Midlands meant no trains were able to run between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stourbridge Junction, with disruption likely to last until around 5pm.

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