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Storm Ciara: Train passengers urged to avoid travel on Sunday

Storm Ciara (pronounced Kiera as in Kiera Knightley) will sweep onto our shores affecting the entire British Isles. Credit: PA

Trains passengers are being urged to only travel on Sunday if their journey is "absolutely necessary" as Storm Ciara is set to batter the UK.

The Met Office is predicting heavy wind and rain that could cause disruption to flights, trains and ferries, as well as damage to buildings.

Widespread gusts of up to 80mph are expecting in places - prompting several rail firms to operate reduced timetables amid speed restrictions.

Network Rail said it "must prioritise the safety of passengers and railway staff."

Storm Gareth whipped up waves around the coast at Porthcawl in Wales. Credit: PA

The Met Office has issued a series of severe weather alerts, including an amber warning for south-east England on Sunday. It's also warning of a "good chance" of power cuts.

A number of events across the country have been cancelled. The London Winter Run 10k event - due to be attended by 25,000 runners - was called off.

Organisers said they were "not able to guarantee the safety of our runners, crew and volunteers".

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Yellow warnings have been issued for north-western parts of the UK on Saturday and the entire country on Sunday.

Storm Ciara was given its official name by the Met Office on Wednesday and is expected to move eastwards towards the UK and Ireland.

Chief meteorologist at the Met Office, Frank Saunders, warned the storm will bring "damaging winds and heavy rain".

He added: "We have issued a range of severe weather warnings giving people time to prepare for potential impacts of the storm.

"Winds will increase through Saturday across Northern Ireland, Scotland, northern England and Wales, before turning very windy across the rest of UK through the early hours of Sunday morning.

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Motoring group RAC is warning drivers to take "extreme care" on roads, especially on coastal or exposed routes.

Patrol of the year Ben Aldous described the forecast as "a recipe for some treacherous driving conditions".

He added: We strongly recommend drivers reduce their speed and leave plenty of space between their vehicle and those around them, and be particular careful when passing high-sided vehicles when the potential for strong crosswinds could blow them off course."

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Network Rail and train operators in England issued an alert to passengers, which read: "Only travel by train this Sunday if absolutely necessary."

Fewer trains than normal will run on Sunday amid speed restrictions and passengers are being urged to check for updates before they travel.

A 50mph speed restriction on trains has been planned to cover a number of lines including those heading to the coast from London's main stations.

The UK braced against 80mph winds in January as winter weather took hold. Credit: PA

Strong winds have the potential to cause damage to overhead electric wires and train tracks, meaning disruption could continue into Monday as repair work gets underway.

Network Rail's strategic operations and passenger director for the North West and Central region, Jake Kelly, said: "It is rare for us to advise passengers to only travel if necessary"

He added: "We must prioritise the safety of passengers and railway staff.”