Commuters are being braced for a day of significant disruption on Wednesday at the hands of Storm Dudley as numerous train and ferry services face delay or cancellation.
Weather warnings and flood alerts have been issued across the country ahead of the return of high winds and heavy rain.
ScotRail has announced that rail services will be “wound down” from the middle of the afternoon as the worst of the adverse weather sweeps across Scotland.
A high number of train services will cease running from 4pm as a safety precaution.
Rail services on the Highland main line and West Highland line are expected to bear the brunt of the disruption.
However, services on the Far North, Kyle of Lochalsh, and Aberdeen to Inverness lines will continue to run as normal.
A series of weather warnings have been issued for Wednesday and Thursday as Met Office forecasters predict wind speeds reaching highs of 90mph in some parts.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) have also issued a series of flood warnings ahead of the storm.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience room (SGoRR) on Tuesday evening in preparation for the severe weather.
He urged Scots to plan ahead if they are preparing to venture out amidst the conditions.
“High winds may cause issues on roads and bridges, disruption to power supplies and danger from falling trees,” Mr Swinney said.
“We would urge everyone to plan their journeys in advance, exercise caution on the roads, and follow the latest travel advice.”
He added: “The Scottish Government’s resilience committee has met this evening and will continue to monitor the situation for the duration of the storms.”
A yellow weather warning will be in force across parts of the Highlands, Aberdeenshire, Tayside and the central belt from 3pm on Wednesday.
An amber warning will also come into affect from 6pm on Wednesday, covering the central belt and parts of Argyll.
Communities in Skye and Lochaber and Argyll and Bute are being warned to expect localised flooding as a result of the heavy rain.
‘Storm Dudley has the potential to cause significant disruption’
Rail bosses have stressed the strength of the winds expected could damage infrastructure, blowing debris and trees onto tracks and damaging equipment such as overhead electric power lines and signals.
Additional engineers are now being drafted to various areas across the network ready to react to problems affecting the line.
Liam Sumpter, Network Rail route director for Scotland, said: “Storm Dudley has the potential to cause significant disruption to our infrastructure blowing trees onto tracks and damaging equipment.
“We will be working hard on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to respond to any issues caused by Storm Dudley and will reintroduce services as soon as lines are inspected for damage and we are sure it is safe to do so.”
Customers are being asked to “plan head” to refrain from being tangled up in the disruption.
David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, added: “We know the impact that the earlier withdrawal of services will have on customers but it’s a necessary step to ensure the safety of our staff and customers due to the severe weather.
“If you have to travel tomorrow (Wednesday), please check the ScotRail app or website before heading to the station. With services being withdrawn in the early afternoon, we’d ask all customers to carefully plan ahead.”
⚠️THREAD: Scotland is bracing itself for #StormDudley tomorrow. The welfare of our customers and staff is most important, so for safety reasons most @ScotRail train services will shut down from 1600 on Wednesday (16 Feb). 1/2 pic.twitter.com/QG0GxZWpFA
— ScotRail (@ScotRail) February 15, 2022
Ferry crossings face disruption
Ferry crossings are also expected to endure the worst of the conditions with numerous crossings facing disruption or cancellation at short notice.
CalMac have issued a series of amendments to customers ahead of Storm Dudley, with Oban crossings facing a host of cancellations.
— CalMac Service Info (@CalMac_Updates) February 15, 2022
Crossings between Oban and Colonsay have been called off for the duration of the day on Wednesday, as forecasters predict wind speeds of 51mph.
The 7am service rom Fionnphort and Iona has also been cancelled ahead of schedule, with a review set to take place at 8am with regards to CalMac’s later sailings.
The 07:30 crossing from Kennacraig to Islay has been cancelled, ahead of the cancellation of the 10:15am service departing from Port Ellen.
Services between Mallaig and Armadale; Tobermory and Kilchoan; Ardmhor and Eriskay and Lochaline and Fishnish among those facing delay or cancellation tomorrow amidst the changing weather conditions.
Red Cross volunteers standing ready to support communities
British Red Cross volunteers and staff are preparing to lend their support to those worst affected by Storm Dudley.
Teams based across Scotland will be be on hand to assist as part of coordinated responses with local authorities, the emergency services and other voluntary groups.
The storm is the latest endeavour for the teams.
In November, volunteers and staff were stationed at the epicentre of Storm Arwen, helping vulnerable people affected by the power outage by providing food, information and other essentials.