Heavy rain and flooding are causing disruption to some journeys in southwest England (Reuters)
Heavy rain and flooding are causing disruption to some journeys in southwest England (Reuters)

Christmas travel plans are in disarray across vast areas of southern England and the Midlands as heavy rain and flooding has blocked roads and badly hit rail services.

Although bad weather is expected to ease on Friday, heavy rain and strong winds with a risk of gales in some areas are likely to return on Saturday and last until Monday, forecasters have warned.

Flooding in southern England has already hit railway timetables, with services on routes in several counties cancelled or severely delayed.

Heavy rain and flooding in areas such as Axminster, the Sway area in Hampshire and Barnham, West Sussex, has caused cancellations and delays.

There is no service between Yeovil Junction and Exeter St Davids and trains on the entire route between Bournemouth and Brockenhurst have been cancelled until further notice.

Replacement buses have been brought in between St Austell and Luxulyan in Cornwall and all stations to Newquay.

Buses have also been bought in to replace trains between Fareham and Eastleigh in Hampshire and between Uttoxeter and Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands until further notice because of flooding.

Some cross-country rail services may be delayed by up to 60 minutes because of the weather, Network Rail warned.

A spokeswoman for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance said: "We are working hard to restore services in these areas as quickly as possible."

The Environment Agency has issued more than 50 flood warnings across southwest and southeast England and the Midlands.

An entire village in Hampshire had to be evacuated after the Environmental Agency said flood defences around the village had failed and cracks had formed in a wall.

A severe flood warning, meaning potential loss of life, has been issued for Wallington on the River Wallington.

More than 250 flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - have been issued across the north of England and Wales. The Met Office has also issued severe weather warnings for London and the southwest.

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