Weather disrupts road, rail and ferries in South East

Brighton seafront
Image caption The Environment Agency warned people to stay away from south coast promenades

Strong winds and heavy rain have been causing major travel problems in the South East for people hoping to get away for Christmas.

The Met Office has issued amber "be prepared" warnings across Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

The QEII bridge at the Dartford Crossing was closed and not expected to reopen until 05:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The Highways Agency said the crossing's tunnels would be open, but congestion was to be expected in Kent and Essex.

Drivers were advised to seek alternative routes if possible or avoid the Thurrock and Dartford areas of Essex and Kent.

The A249 Sheppey Crossing bridge was also closed.

Fallen trees

Roads closed in Kent included the A2 at Harledown, the southbound A21 Tonbridge bypass and the A299 in Staplehurst.

Several roads in Surrey were blocked by fallen trees, including the A281 at Shalford, A31 in Puttenham and the A247 near Burntcommon.

Image caption Trees on Worthing seafront were buffeted by gusting winds and the pier was closed

In West Sussex, the A27 was closed near Chichester, and a mudslide blocked the A285 near Petworth.

Rail and ferry services are also disrupted, with a train hitting a fallen tree between Tonbridge and High Brooms.

One passenger said; "The train screeched to a halt and the driver came on saying we'd hit and tree and would be stuck here."

A spokeswoman from Southeastern said a team was being sent to remove the tree from the track before the train from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells could continue on its journey.

At 21:00, the Port of Dover was closed as winds of almost 60mph were recorded.

A port spokesman said four ferries were moored in the English Channel until it was safe to dock. The port advised passengers that delays would continue after it reopened.

South West Trains said some services between London Waterloo and Guildford, Epsom and Shepperton had been cancelled.

Southeastern was running replacement bus services between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings because of a landslide at Wadhurst, and between Sheerness and Sittingbourne because of a tree on the line.

It said it was unlikely to run any services before 07:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Flood alerts

Image caption The Port of Dover was closed at 21:00

P&O and DFDS crossings to Calais are disrupted and travellers are being advised to contact ferry operators and check the port's website.

DFDS services to Dieppe from Newhaven, East Sussex are cancelled until 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued a number of flood alerts across the South East.

It also advised people to stay away from promenades along the south coast, where Worthing Pier is closed.

Brighton and Hove City Council said it would shut the beach to the public where the traditional Christmas Day swim takes place, for a second year running.

A seafront team will be out from 08:30 GMT on 25 December to put up signs informing the public of the temporary closure because of severe weather conditions.

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