Storm Pia wrecks Christmas travel plans by air, sea and rail

Four days before Christmas, hundreds of thousands of people have had their travel plans torn up as hundreds of trains, ferries and flights are cancelled due to Storm Pia.

The Met Office predicts gales of up to 80mph in some areas, with all of Scotland and large swathes of England set to be affected until Thursday evening.

In Scotland and northern England, some rail lines have been closed because of fears of obstructions being blown onto tracks. Elsewhere, speed restrictions are in place.

British Airways has cancelled at least 24 flights, with Scotland’s airline, Loganair, also grounding some services. Many ferries are also staying in port.

These are the key issues facing travellers.

Trains

Some railway lines in Scotland are closed completely due to Storm Pia. Even on stretches that are open, one operator is urging passengers not to attempt to make Anglo-Scottish journeys.

TransPennine Express is advising passengers not to try to travel in or out of Edinburgh until after 3pm, with no services running between Edinburgh and north west England until Thursday afternoon.

Network Rail Scotland is telling passengers: “We’ll suspend train services on some routes on Thursday until we can safely inspect our tracks for fallen trees and debris.

“Those lines are the West Highland Line (including lines to Oban and Mallaig), Kyle of Lochalsh Line, Far North Line and Inverness-Inverurie.

“Speed restrictions will also be in place across the Highland Mainline, as well as some central belt, south-west Scotland and cross-border routes.

“Our local maintenance teams are well prepared, with additional chainsaw gangs ready to clear fallen trees and extra staff on hand across the country.”

LNER is curtailing trains that would normally serve northern Scotland and says: “Some LNER services between Edinburgh and London Kings Cross will terminate or start at Newcastle.”

The train operator has lifted restrictions for tickets dated Thursday 21 December. Tickets are valid on LNER services throughout Thursday 21 December and Friday 22 December.

Northern warns of speed restrictions on a number of lines, adding 45 minutes to journeys.

Flights

British Airways has grounded two dozen domestic and European flights to and from London Heathrow, including multiple links to and from Amsterdam.

Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow routes also have cancellations.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “Due to the high winds forecast as part of Storm Pia, we have made some adjustments to our schedule with as much notice as possible for our customers. We have apologised for the disruption to their travel plans and our teams are working hard to get their journeys back on track as quickly as possible.”

In Scotland, some Loganair services are cancelled and others are delayed. The airline says: “We are offering customers the opportunity to adjust travel plans without charge. You can choose to re-book on an alternative flight up to seven days from your original travel date.”

Ferries

Caledonian MacBrayne has cancelled some Western Isles ferry links altogether on Thursday, affecting travellers planning journeys to and from Barra, Harris, North Uist and South Uist.

Ferries linking islands in Orkney and Shetland are disrupted.

P&O Ferries has cancelled all daytime services between Cairnryan in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland.

In south-east England, the problem is unrelated to weather: queues are building at the Port of Dover as motorists wait to be processed through French border controls.