NETWORK Rail and train operators across the north west are warning passengers to only travel if they have to this Sunday, due to high winds.

With Storm Ciara approaching, the rail industry gave passengers this message: “Only travel by train this Sunday if absolutely necessary.”

The updated warning comes as winds of up to 80mph are expected along the West Coast main line, Chiltern main line, and lines in the West Midlands, north west and Cumbria.

Emergency weather action teams are on standby across the country to respond to any disruption caused by the adverse weather.

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But with the high risk that trees or other debris could be blown onto the railway, speed restrictions of 50mph are being put in place across the network on Sunday.

Those passengers who do have to travel are being advised to check before they travel at and with their train operators to see how their journeys could be affected.

Some train operators may allow tickets booked for Sunday to be used on Saturday or Monday. Passengers are advised to check with their operators.

Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s strategic operations and passenger director for the North West & Central region, said: “It is rare for us to advise passengers to only travel if necessary, but with the latest forecasts showing how severe Storm Ciara will be, we must prioritise the safety of passengers and railway staff.

“Our teams have been planning for the likelihood that debris will be blown onto tracks and overhead electric wires. We have extra people on the ground at various locations across the region to deal with any disruption. I understand 50mph speed limits on Sunday may be frustrating for some people, but they are a necessary safety precaution when such wild weather is expected.

“I thank passengers in advance for their patience and urge people to check before travelling at or with their train operator.

Business owners and householders neighbouring the railway are also being reminded to secure anything in their gardens and yards which could be blown onto the tracks.

It comes after a trampoline was blown onto the West Coast main line last month bringing disruption to passengers.

Jake added: “In strong winds trampolines become airborne very easily. Our advice is: Please tether these kinds of items. That way you won’t lose them and train passengers’ journeys won’t be disrupted.

“We’re appealing to people living and working by the railway to ensure other items, such as gazebos, marquees, empty builders’ sacks, tents and the like are fixed in place, so they don’t end up on the tracks during high winds.”

Passengers are urged to check over the weekend to check for the latest travel alerts ahead of Storm Ciara’s arrival.