Storm Gerrit causes UK travel chaos with drivers stuck in snow as trains blocked

Storm Gerrit has brought widespread disruption to drivers and travellers heading home and back to work after the Christmas holidays.

Gusts of 80mph, heavy rain and snow have caused delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport.

A major incident was declared on the A9 in Scotland after heavy snowfall caused drivers to become stuck near Drumochter mountain pass in the Highlands. Snowploughs were used to clear a path and some drivers turned back, choosing to stay another night with friends or to book hotel rooms.

BEAR Scotland, which manages the trunk roads in the area, described the conditions as “extremely challenging”. It sent six ploughs and three tractors to the scene.

The A9 further south at Ballinluig in Perthshire was also closed by police due to flooding.

The storm also caused power cuts at some 27,000 properties in Scotland, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution said.

ScotRail was forced to suspend all services from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday due to the extreme weather.

Air travel was significantly disrupted as British Airways confirmed it cancelled 18 flights.

A British Airways spokesman said: “As a result of air traffic control restrictions put in place because of Storm Gerrit, we have had to make some adjustments to our schedule today.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 27: People walk on on a sea wall at high tide, during strong winds on December 27, 2023 in Brighton, United Kingdom. The Met Office issued yellow wind warnings, with gusts up to 70mph for exposed coastal regions in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, alongside wintry weather across much of Scotland, marking the seventh named storm in the current UK storm season, spanning September to August next year. (Photo by Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)
The sea wall at high tide during strong winds caused by Storm Gerrit in Brighton (Photo: Peter Nicholls/Getty)

LNER, which operates trains between London and Scotland on the East Coast Main Line, urged passengers not to travel if possible, as it cancelled numerous services.

King’s Cross station was full to the brim with crowds of passengers attempting to complete journeys amid various delays and cancellations.

One passenger who spoke to i said the atmosphere at the station was “crazy”, adding that there was a “mad stampede” through the barriers when the platform for a delayed train was announced.

Trains between Newcastle and Edinburgh were also blocked due to flooding and the line between St Pancras and Luton was also closed. Paddington, which was due to reopen today, will remain closed until Thursday.

Travellers using Avanti West Coast were told by the company not to attempt to go north of Preston.

It said customers with tickets for travel between Preston and Edinburgh/Glasgow will be able to those for travel on either 28 or 29 December.

Flooding between Lockerbie and Carlisle blocked all rail lines between those stations. Residents in Fife had to be rescued from their homes following severe flooding in the town of Cupar. As much as 80mm of rain fell in Cumbria, the Met Office said.

Ferry operator Red Funnel, which provides services between Southampton and Cowes on the Isle of Wight, cancelled its Red Jet passenger services due to strong winds.

Yellow weather warnings for wind and rain were in place earlier on Wednesday for much of the southern coast of England, north-west England and Wales and Northern Ireland, with snow warnings issued for Scotland.

A yellow weather warning for wind has come into force for Wales and parts of north-west England. It is set to remain in place until 3am on Thursday.

‘King’s Cross was crazy’

Giselle Leeb spent six hours and 40 minutes trying to get home to Beeston, Nottinghamshire, from a Christmas visit to Chichester in West Sussex on Wednesday.

The author told i: “My second train was cancelled and then the third delayed so I had to find an alternative route, then the fourth train from Kings Cross was too full to get on.

“The atmosphere at King’s Cross was crazy and there was a mad stampede through the barriers when the platform was announced, with a lot of very upset people who had several trains cancelled and couldn’t get on the full train.

“I finally managed to get on a train to Leeds that stopped at Grantham. The stops on the train noticeboard weren’t the same as the announced stops and a lot of people including me were confused. The aisles were too blocked to find any staff.

“The train to Nottingham was also delayed but I finally made it to Nottingham then Beeston,” two hours later than planned.

For the week ahead, New Year’s Eve is set to see “ferocious” winds strike the UK when a second Atlantic storm lands in the wake of Storm Gerrit.

Senior meteorologist Jim Dale of British Weather Services has urged Britons to prepare for the incoming weather front.

Mr Dale said: “I encourage anyone travelling on New Year’s Eve to do so sooner rather than later on Sunday as these winds will be ferocious.”

‘No food and drink and only one working toilet’

Ely King said she only discovered her 12.54pm train from Hartlepool to King’s Cross was cancelled after she checked the app.

“The train was cancelled up to York, so if you were able to get to York your original seats and ticket were valid,” added the junior publicist.

” I weighed up the options of trying to get to York, or trying to wait for the next grand central that would have two trains worth of people, plus there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t also be cancelled.

Ms King’s grandparents were able to drive her the hour-long journey to York so she could catch her part-cancelled train.

“However we’re now down petrol costs and the stress of it all,” she said.

“Grand Central [train company] gave the explanation of train faults plus the weather – which was evident considering the fridges weren’t working, so no cold food or drinks, and the train hadn’t been hooked to water so no hot drinks or water available.

“Plus, only one working toilet on the entire sold-out train.”