Weather: Rain Hits Roads And Rail Amid Floods

Wet weather has put a dampener on thousands of people's Christmas plans, with yet another day of rain on already sodden ground.

Persistent downpours across large parts of the UK have caused widespread flooding and travel disruption, especially to train services.  

Southwest England, Wales and northeast Scotland have been worst affected, although the Midlands is also on high alert.

More than 160 warnings - meaning flooding is expected and action is needed - have been issued by the Environment Agency across England.

A further 13 flood warnings were in place in Scotland, and more than 260 flood alerts - which means flooding is possible - were also in force across the UK.

CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, First Great Western and First TransPennine Express are all experiencing major delays, according to National Rail.

In the South West there were no trains running between Bristol Parkway and Swindon because of flooding, while services between London Paddington and Swansea were diverted.

Trains will not run between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton Parkway until Friday at the earliest, with replacement buses and diverted routes offering passengers some alternatives.

But First Great Western warned that poor road conditions mean that buses will not be able to travel on many routes.

London Midland is also facing disruption on most of its routes today - this time because of a shortage of train crew - while flooding means services between Derby and Nottingham are suspended.

Network Rail (NR) on Sunday said it was working closely with the Environment Agency and its weather service to try and keep things moving where possible.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon praised the response to the floods but said there was always room for improvement.

"I'm really impressed with the way the emergency services, the Environment Agency, the local authorities are working together, and humbled by the incredible community spirit in places like Broughton," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.

"But we all have to realise that whatever we spend and whatever we do, there are 5.2 million homes in this country that are at some sort of flood risk.

"There are going to be houses flooded in the future, we have just got to be better at warning people, we have got to be smarter at how we build defences (and) what defences we build.

"Government is doing a lot better, we have always got to learn from every single flood and realise it's the most miserable experience for people to have their homes flooded, and it's very damaging to the economy as well."

Meanwhile, numerous roads were flooded, many of them in areas which were under water only a few weeks ago.

Worcestershire was one of the worst-hit counties, with roads also closed due to floods in Worcester, Bromsgrove and Evesham.

It comes as a clean-up continues in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, after flooding forced dozens of people out of their homes and a rest centre set up at Mackie Academy to keep the victims safe and warm.

Devon and Cornwall were also among the worst-hit regions, with RNLI flood rescue teams across the area.

Local police released video footage of the dramatic rescue of a woman who had been washed away by floodwater.

The woman had alerted the emergency services at around 1am to say she and her family were stuck in their 4x4 car in floodwater at Umberleigh, near Barnstaple.

The police helicopter guided the fire service to the vehicle, which was near a level crossing.