Temporary speed limits are being put in place across the railway in the North West and Cumbria tonight as weather conditions worsen.

To keep passengers and railway staff safe, train speeds on many routes north of Crewe will be reduced to 50mph from 8pm tonight.

Debris blown onto tracks is expected to be a problem overnight and into tomorrow as Storm Gareth continues, with Network Rail teams preparing to clear lines and keep passengers moving.

Heavy rain could also cause problems, and high winds of up to 40-50mph are expected inland, increasing to 60mph in places on coastal lines.

A temporary speed limit will be in place on the West Coast main line from 8pm until 8am tomorrow.

At this stage speed limits are due to remain in place until 2pm tomorrow on routes around Liverpool, Manchester and Crewe, on coastal lines in Lancashire and Cumbria, and on higher routes like the Hope Valley line in the Peak District.

Passengers are being advised to check at www.nationalrail.co.uk and with their train operators to see how their journey could be affected.

James Dean, chief operating officer for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “We’ve had a number of incidents already today involving trees, branches or other debris being blown onto the tracks, and some flooding on the line affecting services between Carlisle and Leeds.

“With more worse weather forecast overnight, we expect we’ll be removing more debris from tracks into tomorrow. This is likely to impact train passengers.

“We have extra teams on the ground at various locations across the country to deal with any disruption. And our temporary speed restrictions are a necessary safety precaution.

“We advise passengers to check before travelling at www.nationalrail.co.uk or with their train operator.”

Some train operators are relaxing restrictions for those with pre-booked tickets, so they can travel before the bad weather sets in, or tomorrow after it has passed.