- Train delays of two hours
- Motorway flooded by river
- Landslips block railway lines
- Flyers told to make other plans
Those hoping to flee the vile British weather for some Christmas sun or the slopes could see their getaway plans washed out amid travel chaos affecting one of the country's busiest airports.
Train operators have told people not to travel to Gatwick by rail after the network flooded overnight.
Thameslink, which serves Gatwick and London Bridge from Brighton, told customers if they wanted to guarantee catching their flight, they should make other plans.
But some would-be flyers trying to reach the airport have reported taxis are refusing to make the trip, and even if they managed to get a cab to take them, people have still missed their flights.
Landslips have also dumped tonnes of debris onto lines in the south east, blocking the tracks completely.
This includes the line between Guildford and Godalming used by South Western Railway to take commuters between from Surrey and Hampshire and London.
Stay up to date with the latest here throughout the day.
Brighton to Gatwick trains now running - but only hourly
The tracks gave cleared sufficiently enough for Southern Rail to put on a train an hour.
Here's the latest from them:
A significantly reduced, hourly service will run in both directions calling at all stations in between Brighton and Gatwick Airport. Alternatively, you may wish to consider travelling via Barnham, and changing there for alternative services into London.
Engineers struggle to clear floodwater
The water levels on the tracks at Balcombe are decreasing.
The water levels are continuing to drop but it does take time. This video shows the current situation. pic.twitter.com/jZC5Rk7HtH— Network Rail Kent and Sussex (@NetworkRailSE) December 20, 2019
The M23 now resembles a river
The motorway which feeds Gatwick from Brighton is completely underwater.
This is the current (no pun intended) situation on the #M23: a river has burst its banks and is flowing down on to the carriageway. @HighwaysSEAST advise us the position is unlikely to improve due to more heavy rain & high winds forecast. pic.twitter.com/M4ABBhPaJI— Sussex Roads Police (@SussexRoadsPol) December 20, 2019
This was posted by Sussex Police just after 10am.
The Gatwick Christmas curse
What is it about the Sussex airport and Christmas chaos.
A year ago to the day, more than 100,000 passengers were hit by cancellations when police said they spotted a drone over the runway.
One year ago today. Feeling the pain of those unable to get to Gatwick today and missing flights. Gutted for you. https://t.co/3aJUAGXqwf— Duncan West (@duncan_west) December 20, 2019
Relive the drama here.
If you're travelling to Gatwick by train - expect two hour delays
This is the latest from Thameslink.
#TLUpdates - Services remain heavily disrupted this morning due to flooding on the railway between Brighton and Gatwick Airport.— Thameslink (@TLRailUK) December 20, 2019
Our advice remains to not travel this morning until further notice.
If you do travel, you journey time will be extended by up to 120 minutes.
If you're about to brave the journey, delays are currently at about 120 minutes.
When it rains, it pours
Southeastern - which operates between London and East Sussex and Kent - has now suffered a power failure.
Customers in Tonbridge are impacted.
Do not travel to Gatwick, train operator says
In a statement, Thameslink said: "Heavy rainfall is causing major disruption across the Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express network.
"We strongly advise to not travel at this time between Brighton and Gatwick Airport.
"Alternative routes to reach your destination are limited, so you should make your own way to your destination. Please be mindful that roads will also be suffering from the increased rainfall.
" You should strongly consider making private travel arrangements in order to get to your flight in time. London to Gatwick Airport services will be affected, but to a far lesser extent."
Another landslip blocks the line - this time near Guildford
A landslip near Guildford is causing major disruption to South Western Railway and Great Western Railway services.
The rail operator is already running at about half its capacity due to the longest train strike in British history which has crippled the commute from Surrey into the capital.
Flooding in Britain, in pictures
'Thank you Southern Rail for destroying Christmas'
Flyers struggling to get to Gatwick this morning.
Some vented their fury on social media, accusing rail operators of ruining Christmas.
Others posted pictures of cars crawling through lake-like roads.
And others complained that taxis were refusing to take them to the airport.
Thank you @SouthernRailUK for destroying Christmas, canceled and delayed trains to Gatwick meaning we had to take a £120 taxi and still missed the flight. Also thanks to @easyJet for the incompatant and unhelpful staff refusing to hold the gate for 2 minutes!— Ross Parkinson (@myfake_empire) December 20, 2019
@British_Airways been trying to get to Gatwick from Brighton for an hour, Taxi’s not going . Now on a train via Barnham - help!— marisa zanotti (@DrMarisaZ) December 20, 2019
Nightmare getting into Gatwick this morning, all roads heading in flooded, usual 40 minute journey took nearly 2 hours. Gatwick not fit for expansion— Ollie Taiani (@qpr_ollie) December 20, 2019
To add insult to injury...the M23 is flooded
Those hoping to fly today have been told to find their own way to Gatwick with the trains not running.
That would ordinarily mean hopping in a taxi.
One problem - the motorway that feeds the airport is shut and resembles a river.
Further pics from scene of flooding on #M23. There's a lot of water entering the road from a nearby watercourse that's burst its banks. It may take some time to clear and we do appreciate your understanding. Please be aware there's also issues reported on local roads nearby. pic.twitter.com/CMgdH3FnqC— Highways England (@HighwaysSEAST) December 20, 2019
Update from scene: still flooded! ���� pic.twitter.com/zBggkEoNTR— PC Pete May (@sussexroadscop) December 20, 2019
It's probably not advisable to walk, so it looks you'll be facing a detour through the back-roads if you're on your way.
The affected area is south of the airport.
Landslip sees 10 tonnes of debris pile up on tracks
A landslip in Halley in the Medway Valley has left the line with around 10 tonnes of soil and trees on the line.
It means trains cannot run between buses between Strood and Maidstone West.
Update: Our engineers are on site and clearing an estimated 10 tonnes of fallen earth and trees, which means trains cannot run. We’re so sorry for the disruption today. @Se_Railway are running replacement buses between Strood and Maidstone West. pic.twitter.com/DkC5X779yp— Network Rail Kent and Sussex (@NetworkRailSE) December 20, 2019
It looks like it could be a long day for the Network Rail engineers.
Today's weather forecast
In summary, it's wet.
Flooding the railway network
Heavy overnight rain battered the rail network.
We have a lot of water at Balcombe, but our engineers are on the case and clearing a crest drain of debris which should allow the water to flow away faster. We will keep you updated, but please continue to check with @SouthernRailUK@TLRailUK & @GatwickExpresspic.twitter.com/ol98Wh9SJT— Network Rail Kent and Sussex (@NetworkRailSE) December 20, 2019
The line in Balcombe - part of the Brighton line to London - is completely underwater.
#SNUpdates - @NetworkRailSE track maintenance teams are currently on site dealing with the below, as they work to clear drains of debris in order to allow the water to flow away �� pic.twitter.com/wov7cBtfGJ— Southern (@SouthernRailUK) December 20, 2019
Thirty flood warnings, 189 flood alerts and three weather warnings
Some 30 flood warnings - where flooding is expected - were in place for England on Thursday evening, alongside 189 flood alerts, which warn flooding is possible.
As well as those Environment Agency alerts, there are also weather warnings for rain in place for Friday, Saturday and Sunday issued by the Met Office.
- Homes and businesses could be flooded, causing damage to some buildings.
- Delays or cancellations to train and bus services are possible
- Spray and flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures
- Some communities may be cut off by flooded roads.
There are three separate yellow warnings in place for rain in the south east of England including London, the south west of England and eastern Scotland.