Christmas getaway drivers face ‘treacherous’ roads

Motorists are being warned about "treacherous" driving conditions due to last week's heavy rainfall, as millions of people embark on a Christmas getaway.

AA president Edmund King said standing water remains on many roads in southern England, despite a spell of relatively drier weather following recent downpours.

A recent AA poll suggested 74% of motorists would risk driving through flood water despite the risk of being swept away.

Mr King said: "I have done a lot of driving in the last week and some of the driving conditions have been treacherous.

"Many rural roads in the south, whilst still passable with care, have large puddles of water on the sides.

"Drivers need to slow down if they want to get home safely for Christmas."

As of 4pm on Monday, some 54 flood warnings – where flooding is expected – were in place for England, alongside 141 flood alerts, which warn flooding is possible.

Environment Agency flood duty manager Carol Holt said: "While the weather outlook is improving, rivers continue to respond to recent rainfall, meaning that there is a continued risk of flooding in parts of southern and central England over the next few days."

An RAC survey indicated that 3.1 million drivers will make a leisure trip by car on Tuesday, as many people clock up the miles to be with family and friends in time for Christmas Day.

The busiest period is expected to be between 2pm and 6pm.

Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday is believed to have eased the annual getaway dash as journeys have been spread out across several days.

Southern and Gatwick Express train services were affected when all lines between Brighton and Haywards Heath were suspended on Monday afternoon due to flooding near Preston Park station.

This stopped London Victoria-Brighton trains from operating, although services later resumed.

London Paddington will be closed from Tuesday until Saturday due to Network Rail carrying out track and overhead wiring improvements at Southall, plus Crossrail upgrades.

A total of 386 engineering projects are being carried out across Britain's rail network over the festive period.

London King's Cross, London Liverpool Street and Ashford International services will be among those suffering the worst disruption.

Passengers are advised to check journey details before they travel.

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