In anticipation of significant high winds tomorrow, train company GWR is warning customers that they expect to cut services by half and where long-distance trains can operate, journey times will be significantly longer.

The Met Office has upgraded their severe weather warning to red – the highest level – for parts of south west England and south Wales.

Current forecasts suggest high winds will exceed 100mph. To make sure trains are able to run safely, speed restrictions across the Great Western Network are required.

This means GWR is expecting to significantly reduce the number of long-distance services, and where trains can run, journeys are expected to take much longer.

Some branch lines in Devon and Cornwall will have to close, and the mainline in South Wales will be closed. Where bus replacement services are able to operate, they too will be affected by very poor road conditions, possible road closures, and are likely to be very busy.

Disruption is likely to continue into the weekend as Network Rail works to check and clear debris and fallen trees over 1,000 miles of track.

To help customers, GWR is allowing people with tickets for travel on Friday 18 February to be able to travel on Thursday 17 through to and including Monday 21 February.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“Speed restrictions will be put in place on our network, but the extent of those restrictions can only be determined by conditions on the ground and are likely to change throughout the day.

“We will continue to run as many trains as we can but those who need to travel travel should be aware that we will have to reduce the number of trains we can run, journey times will take longer, and those trains we can run will be much busier.

“Please do heed the usual advice to check before you travel, and if you hold a ticket for tomorrow [Friday 18 February] and would like to travel today or up to Monday, we have eased restrictions so that you are able to do so.”

The priority will be to keep trains running and customers moving safely, but changes to services are likely to be needed to allow that to happen and customers may wish to alter their plans.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail Western route and strategic operations director, said:

“We’re working really closely with GWR and the other train companies to keep trains and passengers moving safely during this period of extreme weather.

“The severe weather associated with Storm Eunice is expected to bring significantly high winds of up to 100mph, and in places may result in trees and debris being blown onto train lines which blocks train movements and can cause delays and cancellations.

“Our operational colleagues will be out there on the front line braving the conditions to respond to any incidents and keep the railway clear and trains moving where it is safe and possible to do so.

“Storms can create a fast-moving picture so we’re asking passengers to please plan ahead and check before they travel.”

Those who choose not to travel at all will be able to claim a refund/allowed to amend their ticket. Those who travel and are delayed may be entitled to delay repay compensation if they are delayed by 15 mins or more.