Storm chaos on the roads and railways

LORNA MARSH Severe weather caused chaos for travellers in East Anglia as rail services and roads were crippled by the storms while power cuts left thousands of homes and businesses without power.

LORNA MARSH

Severe weather yesterday caused chaos for travellers in East Anglia as rail services and roads were crippled by the storms while power cuts left thousands of homes and businesses without power.

While weather conditions are set to be calmer today, the reprieve will be short-lived before severe winds are expected to lash the region again at the weekend.

Trains operated by One from Norwich to London were replaced by buses to Diss after a conservatory and a tree fell on the line at Tivetshall St Margaret.

Bus replacement services also operated from Ipswich to London while those rail lines that were still running suffered delays.

Central trains to Liverpool through the Midlands were also badly affected.

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Many Norwich International Airport flights were cancelled or delayed including services to and from Paris, Amsterdam and Manchester.

Bus services were affected due to diversions set up around closed roads, including the B1102 and Duke Street in Norwich, the A149 and A47 at King's Lynn, the A140 at Dunston, the A11 at Elveden and the A47 between Trowse and Postwick.

A tree blocked the road at the A1067 one mile on the Norwich side of Guist and the A1066 Thetford side of Garboldisham.

EDF Energy Networks estimated that about 20,000 homes and businesses were affected across East Anglia.

A spokeswoman said: "We have robust emergency plans in place to cope with severe weather and activated the early stages of this.

"We have drafted in additional staff including engineers, technical and call centre employees and all planned work and training in the East of England has been cancelled where possible to release ground staff to concentrate on weather- related faults.

"We currently have more than 350 staff deployed to concentrate on weather- related faults, working in difficult conditions."

John Law, duty forecaster at WeatherQuest, based at the UEA, said that winds had reached 78mph in Marham and at Norwich International Airport they hit 66mph.

He said these were on a par, if not stronger, than the gales that caused death and chaos across Britain in October 1987.

And the storms were more widely spread.

"These storms have been caused by an area of very low pressure that has moved across the north and everywhere south of that has seen very strong winds that we have seen consistently across the area."

He said that after continuing through the night the weather would calm down by this morning.

But he added: "Things will be a lot calmer but there will be more winds at the weekend, starting again on Saturday, but not to the same level."