Flooding caused major delays for world leaders heading to Cop26 today – with one train firm urging passengers ‘not to travel’ across the border due to disruption after two road bridges were ‘washed away’ amid torrential rain.
Avanti West Coast – which runs services between London Euston and Glasgow, where the climate conference begins on Sunday – said Network Rail had imposed a series of speed restrictions for safety at several locations.
National Rail said disruption to services was expected to last until at least 1pm this afternoon, when services will be ‘gradually reintroduced’. It told passengers: ‘Customers are advised NOT TO TRAVEL north of Preston today.’
Just two days before Cop26 starts, Network Rail said it had been ‘working hard throughout the night to deal with flooding’ on the West Coast main line, with Avanti and TransPennine Express services facing speed restrictions.
In the Dumfries and Galloway town of Annan, two footbridges – the Cuthbertson Bridge and Diamond Jubilee Bridge – were swept away as the River Annan rose. Network Rail Scotland said the bridges destroyed were north of the railway with trains unable to pass over a viaduct, closing the Glasgow Central – Carlisle via Dumfries line.
It added that the line will remain closed until workers can inspect the Annan Viaduct. A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘This requires divers to go into the water. So, until the river flow slows, we’re unable to do this.’
Travellers making their way to the Cop26 conference from London would ordinarily use the West Coast service to reach Glasgow, with many instead forced to travel on LNER services from King’s Cross to Edinburgh.
But other trains were disrupted by the weather, including the Edinburgh to Glasgow Central via Shotts, Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High and Glasgow Queen Street to Alloa/Aberdeen/Inverness services.
This week, major road routes into Glasgow have been submerged by major rain, with the city’s Great Western Road, in the West End, was left underwater – with drivers forced to leave their cars when the flooding hit.
Delegates travelling to the Cop26 climate change summit wait on the concourse at London Euston station this morning
Flooding on the rail line between Carlisle and Carstairs yesterday which has been causing disruption for train passengers
Another area of flooding on the rail line between Carlisle and Carstairs yesterday which has been resulting in disruption
Participants, workers and reporters wait to enter the SEC in Glasgow today where the Cop26 conference will be held
Cyclists and pedestrians make their way through the rain across a bridge in Glasgow this morning where Cop26 is being held
The Met Office has issued a series of weather warnings for rain for parts of Britain running from today until next Monday
This graphic from Avanti West Coast shows the main line between Preston and Glasgow which has been hit by flooding
It comes as Pope Francis called on political leaders heading to Cop26 to urgently tackle the climate crisis to give ‘concrete hope to future generations’. He said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ‘radical decisions’ are needed as the world faces a ‘succession of crises’ in healthcare, the environment, food supplies and the economy.
In a special Thought for the Day message, the leader of the world’s Catholics warned against countries taking an isolationist approach, and called for a ‘renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world’.
Pope Francis urges leaders at Cop26 to provide ‘concrete hope’ for future generations
Pope Francis has called on political leaders heading to Cop26 to urgently tackle the climate crisis to give ‘concrete hope to future generations’.
He said ‘radical decisions’ are needed as the world faces a ‘succession of crises’ in healthcare, the environment, food supplies and the economy.
In a special Thought for the Day message for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the leader of the world’s Catholics warned against countries taking an isolationist approach, and called for a ‘renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world’.
The Pope told Today: ‘We have lost our sense of security and are experiencing a sense of powerlessness and loss of control over our lives.’
He said the crises being faced ‘forecast a perfect storm’ but also provide opportunities.
Francis added: ‘These crises present us with the need to take decisions, radical decisions that are not always easy. At the same time, moments of difficulty like these also present opportunities. Opportunities that we must not waste.
‘The political decision makers who will meet at Cop26 in Glasgow are urgently summoned to provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations.
‘And it is worth repeating that each of us – whoever and wherever we may be – can play our own part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home,’ he said, in a message also available on BBC Sounds.
His comments come as world leaders prepare to head to Glasgow for the crucial climate summit, where countries are under pressure to increase their ambition to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.
Action already pledged by nations to curb emissions in the next decade leave the world well off track to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial times, beyond which increasingly severe impacts will be felt.
The two-week climate conference is being seen as key to increasing action on cutting emissions to deliver on the pledges in the global Paris Agreement to limit temperature rises to ‘well below’ 2C, and try for the safer 1.5C goal.
Leaders of major economies will go to Scotland from a G20 meeting in Rome where climate is set to dominate the agenda, although key heads of state, including China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, are set to miss both summits.
Countries – in particular major emitters – are facing calls from across society, from UN chiefs to religious leaders and campaigners, to increase action to keep the 1.5C goal in reach and avoid catastrophic climate impacts.
There will also be pushes to phase out coal power, boost electric vehicles and protect forests, while developed countries also need to deliver finance for poorer nations to develop cleanly and cope with the already inevitable impacts of a warming world.
Overnight, emergency services evacuated people from houses from Hawick in the Scottish Borders after declaring 500 properties could be inundated amid a flood risk and heavy downpours that also hit the Lake District.
Officers in Hawick, which is 15 miles north of the border with England, called in the Borders Water Rescue Team, mountain rescue and fire crews to help evacuate properties, and schools and health centres were closed.
Despite the rain, forecasters highlighted how temperatures were very mild for the time of year, with highs of 17.3C (63.1F) in Suffolk. They added that the unsettled weather was likely to continue into the weekend, with another weather front arriving from the West today amid a further series of weather warnings for up to 80mm (3.1in) more rain.
The greatest rainfall today was expected in Cumbria and South West England, where Dartmoor was facing up to 80mm (3.1in) – more than a week’s worth, when compared to the October average for the region of 215mm (8.4in). In other areas, the Met Office anticipated up to 40mm (1.57in) in South West Scotland and 60mm (2.4in) in Wales.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued 14 flood warnings and seven alerts today, while in England 47 alerts and 23 warnings were in place from the Environment Agency. Natural Resources Wales had 33 alerts out.
In Peebles, the River Tweed burst its banks and there were fears in Hawick that the Teviot would be next. A rest centre was set up at the town’s Teviotdale Leisure Centre to provide shelter to residents of at-risk areas. A local pub, The Bourtree, offered free tea and coffee and said it would stay open overnight to accommodate them.
A police boat cruises on the River Clyde past the Cop26 conference venue, the Scottish Event Campus, in Glasgow today
Police and security personnel outside the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow today, where the Cop26 summit will be held
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar walks through Glasgow in the rain this morning as he meets GMB workers in the city
Pedestrians shelter under umbrellas in Glasgow today as they walk past a digital display near the SEC venue in the city
Grey skies over the SEC in Glasgow this morning ahead of the Cop26 climate change conference beginning this Sunday
Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher, local area commander for the Scottish Borders, said: ‘We are working with our colleagues at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Borders Council to move those affected.’
He added that the emergency services were ensuring all those evacuated would be accommodated. The Scottish Borders Council closed schools and NHS Borders shut Teviot Health Centre in the Roxburghshire town.
An £88million flood prevention scheme being built in Hawick is due for completion in 2023. Hawick Flood Group chairman Stuart Marshall said: ‘We have been working hard all day distributing sandbags.’
An update last night from Sepa stated that the River Teviot had reached a peak of 9.5ft before receding and families were told they could return to their homes. Earlier, 14 flood warnings were in place in the Borders.
Flooding in Peebles was ‘very serious’ with schools closed yesterday. Seven schools shut in Dumfries and Galloway. Elsewhere, water poured on to the street at Whitesands in Dumfries from the River Nith.
Stephen Rutt, from Dumfries, posted images of the river, saying: ‘The Nith is anarchic at the best of times, veering wildly between no flow and flood. But I have never seen it like this before.’
The downpours also caused transport chaos on the roads. Flooding shut the A709 near Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, and Traffic Scotland said it had reports of floods on the M74 near Abington, Lanarkshire.
Forecasters from the Met Office say that the unsettled weather is likely to continue into the weekend
Some 370mm (14.6in) of rain was recorded at Honister Pass in Cumbria between 1am on Wednesday and 6pm yesterday
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued 14 flood warnings and seven alerts covering the country today
The Environment Agency had 47 alerts and 23 warnings in place (left), while Natural Resources Wales had 33 alerts (right)
Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team are pictured pumping out floodwater yesterday after Cumbria was hit by heavy rain
River levels were very high in Cockermouth, Cumbria, yesterday – with flooding affecting an outdoor seating area (left)
Elsewhere, a landslide blocked the B725 road around six miles from Dumfries and as police warned of large areas of flooding on that road from Dumfries to Glencaple.
A Met Office yellow warning for southern Scotland and South Lanarkshire covered Strathclyde, Central Scotland, Tayside, Fife and the Lothians yesterday. Forecasters expect more rain today, with more disruption possible.
A yellow warning of rain, which includes Yorkshire and Humber, was in force until 3pm today. Another for South-West England applies until 9am tonight while one is already in force in Wales and lasts until 3pm today.
Cumbria Police warned some roads may be impassable, while South Lakes police tweeted the A591 Rydal to Grasmere road was not passable ‘due to the depth of flood waters in several locations’.
The force urged people not to take unnecessary risks and only to travel if they really need to.
Residents in the Cumbrian towns of Cockermouth and Keswick – both flooded in 2015 and 2009 – started laying sandbags and putting up flood barriers outside their homes as the Rivers Kent, Cocker and Derwent burst their banks.
The Met Office tweeted yesterday evening that 370mm (14.6in) of rain had been recorded at Honister Pass in Cumbria between 1am on Wednesday and 6pm yesterday.
Londoners shelter from the heavy rain under umbrellas this morning as they make their way over London Bridge
A commuter struggles with an umbrella in the wind as she walks through Putney in South West London this morning
Commuters walk under umbrellas in the rain near London Bridge this morning as the capital is hit by wet weather
A cyclist looks at his phone while making his way along a wet road in front of a bus near London Bridge this morning
A woman walks her dog on Wimbledon Common in South West London on a wet and blustery morning today
A commuter struggles with an umbrella in the wind as she walks through Putney in South West London this morning
Londoners shelter under umbrellas as they walk along a wet pavement in the rain near London Bridge this morning
Commuters walk under umbrellas near London Bridge this morning as the capital is hit by wet weather
Commuters are hit by heavy rain near London Bridge on their way to work this morning
Commuters walk under umbrellas near London Bridge this morning as the capital is hit by heavy rain
The entrance of 10 Downing Street in Westminster is decorated with green lights today to mark the start of Cop26 on Sunday
It reported 132mm (5.2in) of rain at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway in the same period.
Aidan McGivern, a Met Office meteorologist, said: ‘These are exceptional rainfall totals for even the wettest part of the UK, which is Cumbria on average, and for the wettest part of the year.’
Scotland’s transport minister Graeme Dey said: ‘The conditions could potentially bring disruption to the trunk road and rail networks, so it’s important people plan their journeys before they set off.
‘Motorists should make sure their routes are available, follow travel advice from Police Scotland and drive to the conditions.’
He added: ‘If you are planning to travel by rail, please check with your operator ahead of your journey. This is particularly important for cross-border travellers following the earlier disruption to services.’
People are photographed watching the River Teviot from their homes at Hawick in the Scottish Borders overnight
The River Teviot is seen flowing in Hawick overnight after torrential rainfall hit the town in the Scottish Borders
The River Teviot is seen flowing high and fast in Hawick overnight after families were evacuated from their homes
A man is seen fitting flood defences to his house in Hawick overnight as residents were evacuated from the Scottish Borders
A man is seen watching the swelling River Teviot in Hawick overnight as the Scottish Borders are hit by major rainfall
The River Teviot is seen flowing past an empty restaurant in Hawick overnight as the Scottish Borders is hit by heavy rain
A major incident was declared in Hawick, pictured overnight, after sustained heavy rain caused the River Teviot to swell
Around 500 homes are thought to be affected in Hawick with residents evacuated from their properties overnight
The River Teviot is seen flowing high in Hawick overnight as a major incident was declared in the town in the Scottish Borders
Trees are seen submerged in the River Teviot in Hawick overnight as the Scottish Borders town is hit by major flooding
A couple are seen watching the River Teviot in Hawick overnight as a major incident was declared in the town
Trees are seen submerged in the River Teviot in Hawick overnight as a major incident is declared in the Scottish town
Workers at the Sellafield nuclear power plant were also allowed to leave early and Cumbria police urged people to stay at home if possible.
People are seen watching the River Teviot from their homes in Hawick in the Scottish Borders overnight
People walk over a bridge as trees are seen submerged in the River Teviot in Hawick in the Scottish Borders overnight
Trees are seen submerged in the River Teviot in Hawick overnight as the Scottish Borders are hit by flooding
Sandbags are seen outside a business in Hawick in the Scottish Borders overnight as it is threatened by flooding
The River Teviot is seen flowing past a partially built bridge in Hawick overnight as the Scottish Borders sees heavy rain
A man is seen fitting flood defences to his house in Hawick overnight as heavy rain falls over the Scottish Borders
Sandbags are seen outside a house in Hawick overnight as a major incident was declared following sustained heavy rain
In Cumbria, Ray Milner said he feared his Cockermouth home would be flooded a third time in 12 years if projected river heights were borne out last night. ‘Even slightly rainy, it gets me stressed,’ he said.
‘There are sensors at various points of the river and the Environment Agency make computer projections from them. The one for about 3am is for well above three metres (10ft).’
He said anything above two metres (6.5ft) would see water enter his property. Meanwhile Gillian Jackson said several of her holiday lets in Cockermouth had also been flooded again.
‘We’ve been through this before so it’s just get up, get on with it,’ she told the BBC. ‘Yes it’s upsetting but we’ve kind of got a bit hardened to it, got used to it, and we’ve just got to crack on and sort it out.’
** Have you been affected by flooding today? Please send your photos to: [email protected] **