Rain and floods wreak travel havoc

Blackpool Citizen: Flooding in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, as heavy rain and thunderstorms battered parts of central and northern England Flooding in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, as heavy rain and thunderstorms battered parts of central and northern England

Widespread disruption is expected to blight major transport routes for a second day after fierce storms and torrential downpours caused flash floods across parts of the UK.

Train services between Scotland and England have been axed in the wake of Thursday's freak deluges that saw rail lines blocked by flood water, landslips and fallen trees.

One man died after being swept away in a Shropshire stream, while roads were closed, properties were flooded and hundreds of homes were evacuated. Maths teacher Mike Ellis was killed at Bittlerley, near Ludlow and a 90-year-old man was among a number of people rescued from vehicles by fire crews following flash flooding in the Bridgnorth area of the county.

Northern England, the Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland were worst hit by battering storms that brought lightening, giant hail stones and and reports of damage from squalls and tornadoes. But in stark contrast, southern parts of Britain enjoyed dry weather and temperatures up to 28C.

East Coast Trains said it had cancelled all services between Newcastle and Edinburgh on Friday following floods in Cumbria and near Newcastle and a landslip near Berwick-upon-Tweed. The West Coast line was also badly hit by the storms.

An East Coast spokesman said there would be no replacement bus services or alternative transport arrangements between Scotland and England, adding: "Network Rail is working hard to fix the line quickly following various problems caused by the severe weather experienced yesterday. The line is unlikely to re-open until tomorrow morning. Tickets valid today and yesterday will be valid on Saturday."

Swathes of the Midlands were hit by intense downpours on Thursday, with some parts receiving almost an inch (22mm) of rain in just an hour - a third of the average rainfall for the whole month of June.

The North Tyneside area was also left reeling by the intense downpours and flooding that forced the closure of roads, the Metro network, The Tyne Tunnel and Newcastle's MetroCentre. There were also widespread powercuts in the area with 15,000 homes still facing blackouts on Thursday night as Northern Power Grid engineers worked to resolve the problem.

North Tyneside Council said it dealt with more than 200 flood-related incidents in the borough and that at least eight schools will be closed on Friday due to flooding or water damage following the afternoon deluge. All Metros remained at a standstill overnight, while the Tyne Tunnel was reopened after the floods subsided.

Northern Ireland and the Irish republic were also hit by floods and at the height of disruption, more than 10,000 homes in the Cork area and 1,000 in Northern Ireland suffered blackouts.

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