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Rail delays hit airport passengers

Rail delays have led to hold-ups for passengers heading for Gatwick and Stansted Airports.

For Gatwick-bound travellers, there were problems for the third day running due to, initially, signalling problems at Burgess Hill in West Sussex and then staff shortages on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes.

Those travelling towards Stansted were delayed by a signal problem at the Essex airport's rail station around lunchtime.

There were other delays during the morning rush-hour.

South West Trains' passengers were held up by a broken-down train at Wimbledon in south-west London, while a signalling problem near Canley in the West Midlands led to delays to services run by the CrossCountry, London Midland and Virgin Trains companies.

In Kent and East Sussex, signalling problems between Ashford International and Rye caused hold-ups.

Travellers on Thameslink and Great Northern routes were warned to expect short-notice cancellations, delays and alterations to services owing to the staff shortages.

Govia Thameslink Railway chief executive Charles Horton apologised to passengers.

He said: "Regrettably, despite our best efforts, some services have been cancelled because we have not had enough drivers for all our rail services, especially given the essential training we are undertaking at the moment to deliver Thameslink Programme works.

"We inherited this issue when we took over the franchise in September and we are determined to address it. Thank you for your patience and please accept our apologies. We are determined to make things better."

Tweeting passengers appeared less than impressed. Aran Beedham said the Thameslink situation was "now descending into a farce" while a tweet under the title Trainslate spoke of "the ridiculous driver-shortage excuse".

Candy Cane Staiano tweeted: "Thameslink (formerly run by equally rubbish First Capital Connect) your train service has been shocking this week! Hang your head in shame.

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White Christmas is looking 'unlikely'....for now

White Christmas is looking unlikely at the moment Credit: PA

A white Christmas across the UK is looking unlikely for now, but severe weather warnings are in place over the weekend.

Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson said that while any snow that falls will be "restricted to high ground in the north", he added: "It's still six days away so it could change."

The Met Office currently has severe weather warnings in place through to Monday.

Getaway traffic building up on M25

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