THE MAIN rail line between Edinburgh and London has been blocked by debris as a deadly storm continues to wreak havoc south of the border.
St Jude’s storm has seen winds of almost 100mph pushed across the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England, and Network Rail said more than 100 fallen trees have been found on lines, with several hundred staff have been working to monitor conditions and react to any damage.
Train operator East Coast had already brought in an emergency timetable with a reduced service between Edinburgh and London. And the company advised people not to travel unless necessary and said tickets would be valid tomorrow. Virgin west Coast was also operating an emergency timetable.
The storm has now claimed the lives of two people. A 17-year-old girl in Kent suffered fatal injuries when the tree came down where she was sleeping in at about 7.20am, while a man in his 50s was pronounced dead at the scene after a tree crushed a red Peugot 307 at Lower High Street in Watford at 6.50am. Next-of-kin have been informed.
Heathrow cancelled more than 130 flights today because of the storms. Road conditions were also expected to be hazardous.
The Met Office said a gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, at 5am.
Around 220,000 homes across England and Wales were reported to be without electricity after gales brought down power lines.
And the Environment Agency has issued 17 flood warnings, all in south west England.
The Highways Agency advised motorists to check the weather forecast and road conditions before they travel.