Severe disruption is expected across Network Rail Southern Region on Sunday, as Storm Ciara blows in with 80mph winds.

As a result of the potential danger from fallen trees and other debris landing on the railway, a 50mph speed restriction on trains has been planned to cover every line* in the Region, which include lines heading to the coast from London Waterloo, London Victoria, London Charing Cross and London Bridge.

This will be in place from 11am until 7pm and disruption is expected to last at least until the end of the day and potentially into Monday morning too. Passengers are urged to check before they travel on both days.

Operators affected include Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express, Southeastern and South Western Railway.

Southern Region managing director John Halsall said: “We’re going to be working as hard as we can to keep trains running throughout the day, with staff on standby across our region to tackle fallen trees and other debris, but these wind speeds really are extraordinary and we have to keep people safe. There will be disruption and I urge people to please check before they travel.”

Steve White, Chief Operating Officer at Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services in the south, said: “We'll be running as many trains as we safely can during this severe weather but our passengers will face severe disruption not least because of the necessary speed restrictions but because of the inevitable debris that will come down on the lines.

“The disruption will affect us on Sunday but there may be a spillover into Monday morning, so I would urge passengers to please check before they travel on any one of our websites or nationalrail.co.uk. Rest assured, we will do everything we can to keep people moving and to keep you informed.”

Scott Brightwell, Train Services Director for Southeastern said: “High winds mean that, for safety reasons, our trains won’t be able to run at their maximum speed, so an amended timetable will be in place across all of our routes in Kent, East Sussex and south east London on Sunday. Delays and further alterations can be expected across the network due to the possibility of debris or trees being blown on to the lines.

“There’s a possibility that, if the high winds do carry on into Monday, it may affect the start-up of services in the morning, and so we’d advise all of our passengers to please check before they travel on the Southeastern website, On Track app or Twitter feed at @Se_Railway, or National Rail Enquiries.”

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of South Western Railway, said: “Storm Ciara could cause disruption to our services on Sunday, with wind speeds of up to 70mph expected. So as a precaution, and for the safety of our passengers, Network Rail have put in place speed restrictions across our network.

“We’re working hard with Network Rail, and other operators, to minimise the impact to passengers and ensure lines are safe from fallen trees and other debris.

“Depending on the impact of the storm, disruption may continue in to early Monday morning. We advise passengers to check https://www.southwesternrailway.com/disruption before they travel for the latest service information.”

Online journey planners will be updated on Saturday to reflect changes in services in the South East.