Severe weather: Dover ferries delayed and Sussex trains disrupted

Newhaven Lighthouse is battered by waves during stormy weather on 5 February Image copyright AFP
Image caption Newhaven Lighthouse was battered by waves during the stormy weather off the coast of Sussex

Strong winds and heavy rain have been disrupting travel on both land and at sea in the south-east of England.

P&O Ferry services between Dover and Calais are running with an average delay of 75 minutes with gusts of up to 70mph in the English Channel.

Southern train services are currently suspended between Bexhill and Hastings due to high winds and tides resulting in flooding of the line at Bexhill.

Southeastern trains were earlier forced to operate at reduced speeds of 40mph.

The restrictions were lifted by mid-afternoon but the network said the situation could change overnight with the first trains on some routes on Thursday morning having to run at slower speeds.

On Tuesday, the main London-bound railway line was closed between Robertsbridge and Battle for at least two weeks to allow engineers to carry out repairs following landslips at Crowhurst and Battle.

Pier closed

Seven flood warnings have been issued for Kent, Surrey and Sussex, while the Met Office has an amber warning in place for the South East for Thursday afternoon into the weekend - meaning "be prepared".

Andy Page, Met Office chief meteorologist, said the unsettled weather would "continue over the coming days with heavy rain across the southern half of Britain on Thursday evening into Friday, and that will be quickly followed by another storm moving in early on Saturday.

"This will bring the risk of flooding and damaging winds bringing down trees to cause disruption to travel and power networks."

David McKnight, flood expert from the Environment Agency, urged motorists and pedestrians not to enter floodwater, warning of "hidden dangers".

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption The Environment Agency dealt with a tree which fell into the river at Tonbridge

Several trees have already come down across the region, with the agency called to Tonbridge, in Kent, where a tree was blocking the River Medway, causing a flood risk.

Flood resilience team leader Tim Norton said officers had been trimming the branches trying to reduce the blockage "to try and keep the river flowing as free as possible".

The weather has also left its mark on Brighton's ruined West Pier, which was effectively split in two after strong winds caused a section of the structure to fall into the sea.

Further along the coast, the stormy conditions led to the closure of the pier at Eastbourne.

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