For the next two weeks, millions of rail passengers will find journeys across Britain difficult. They will be hit by a combination of Network Rail engineering work, strikes and nature.

UK airports will also be busy over the festive period, with millions of passengers expected to pass through on midwinter trips.

The great Christmas getaway begins today, as people start to plan journeys home for Christmas.

The Independent's Simon Calder predicts that Friday 20 December is likely to be the busiest day of the winter season at London Heathrow airport.

If you're flying out of Heathrow today, leave plenty of time for your journey.

Passengers for Gatwick airport this morning should leave extra time for their journey,

The M23, which serves Gatwick airport, is closed between junctions 10 and 11 due to flooding.

Train operator Southern has warned that those wishing to travel between Gatwick and Brighton should reconsider their plans due to the flooding.

Twenty airports across the UK are this morning launching the One Too Many campaign to remind passengers about the dangers of drinking and disruptive behaviour over the festive period.

Warnings about disruptive behaviour will be displayed across digital screens, in retail, food and drink outlets in the airports, as well as through a targeted social media campaign, to encourage passengers not to drink too much.

More than 40 million passengers are expected to travel to and from UK airports in December and January, according to the UK aviation industry. The busiest day for air travel is expected to be Saturday 21 December.


Here's more information from Simon Calder on the Gatwick flooding this morning:

The IndependentRail passengers south of Gatwick on the Brighton main line urged not to travel

Images from Highways England show a lot of standing water on the M23 still, with the motorway still closed between junctions 10 and 11.

Train operator Thameslink is telling customers not to travel between Gatwick and Brighton due to flooding.

Trains between London and Gatwick are still running as normal.


BBC Sussex is reporting 2h 30m queues northbound on the M23 close to Crawley, while there are delays of an hour heading south.

All main roads in the Crawley area have very heavy traffic as motorists try to avoid the motorway and reach Gatwick, says Simon Calder.

While Brighton struggles with no train service...

Disruption on the railway line between Brighton and Gatwick is expected until at least 2pm today.


Sussex Police are trying to free motorists stranded by the flooding on the M23 south of Crawley, saying: "If you're stuck in the stationary traffic between J11 and the floods: we are trying our best to get you turned around, but please be patient: with the road closure on, there's a lot of traffic to move into a very small space at Pease Pottage!

"If you *are* stuck, please stay in your vehicles. With emergency services vehicles trying to get through the queues, pedestrians are very, very hard to spot in the dark. Stay safe and dry in your cars!"

Due to a landslip, all rail lines between Redhill and Guildford in Surrey are blocked.

There are engineers on site to assess the situation, but disruption is expected until 4pm today.

The Met Office is forecasting plenty of heavy rain this morning, and is advising motorists to take care on the roads.


In Suffolk, Greater Anglia is warning that due to a landslip in Woodbridge, some lines are blocked.

Disruption is expected until 12pm today.

At Gatwick, the busiest single-runway airport in the world, delays are building – an easyJet flight to Montpellier and British Airways to Lanzarote are three hours late, with some other easyJet, BA and Tui flights suffering shorter delays.

It is believed that some of these are caused by staff being unable to get to work.

As the country readies itself for the festive period, 126,554 car breakdowns are expected to take place on UK roads in the days leading up to Christmas (20-25 December 2019) - the equivalent of 15 breakdowns a minute.

Breakdown cover provider Green Flag is urging drivers to check their vehicles before making trips, including tyre pressure, oil levels and vehicle lights.


London hasn't escaped the travel chaos, with several lines experiencing severe delays.

On the London Overground, there's currently no service between Camden Road and Richmond/Shepherd's Bush, with severe delays between Shepherd's Bush and Clapham Junction and between Camden Road and Stratford due to overhead line problems at Willesden Junction.

On the Metropolitan line, there's no service between Wembley Park and Aldgate and severe delays on the rest of the line due to a signal failure at Wembley Park. 

And on the DLR there are severe delays between Woolwich Arsenal and Bank/Stratford International and between Beckton and Tower Gateway due to faulty trains.

At London Waterloo, adding to the problems of the South Western Railway strike, the main line to Portsmouth is blocked because of a landslip.

South Western Railway is telling travellers: "Trains between Waterloo and Portsmouth may be diverted via Basingstoke, run between London Waterloo and Guildford or between Portsmouth and Haslemere. To help with your journey, tickets will be accepted on Southern services via any reasonable route."

Radar from the Met Office shows that there's a lot of rain across the UK today.


It's not all doom and gloom at Gatwick - if you're travelling through the South Terminal today, keep your eyes peeled for some festive entertainers...

The rail disruption continues across the Channel too, as Eurostar has delayed its first Ski Train of the winter season.

The train, which was due to leave London tonight and arrive in Bourg St-Maurice early on Saturday, has been rescheduled to leave St Pancras tomorrow morning.

Simon Calder has all the details:

The IndependentAt 5.19am British time on Saturday, when skiers should have been arriving in the Alps, they will instead be checking in at St Pancras

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