The Christmas getaway plans of thousands of people could be ruined by storm-force winds which are set to hit Suffolk tomorrow, causing major disruption to the county’s road and rail networks.

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Gusts of up to 60mph, similar to that of St Jude in October, are expected to reach their height tomorrow afternoon with speeds potentially rising to between 65 and 70mph on the coast.

Heavy rainfall will bring the added danger of flooding in some areas of the county.

Greater Anglia has announced trains will be running at a reduced speed from 6pm today for safety reasons and no services are expected to operate until at least 10am on Christmas Eve, so engineers can check for damage.

An amber alert has also been issued, which has led to the Highways Agency urging drivers of high-sided and vulnerable vehicles to avoid the Orwell Bridge, near Ipswich.

Phil Garner, a forecaster at Weatherquest, said the winds expected to hit the county tomorrow would be “comparable” with the St Jude storm, which resulted in fallen trees and left thousands of people without power for days.

He added: “It is a weather system that will give us some wet and windy conditions, particularly on Monday afternoon, when there will be strong winds into the night.

“For the St Jude storm the winds were about 60mph and I think for Monday, it will be the same.

“Another factor is that we have got quite a lot of rain coming through.

“With St Jude we got the wind but now we have also got heavy rain which could lead to a bit of flooding. That added element could be another reason for caution.

“It is looking wetter and windier (than St Jude).”

A spokesman for Greater Anglia said officials would be doing all they could throughout today to keep commuters up to date with what was happening and how the weather would affect their travel plans.

Travellers have been advised to take earlier trains, however, to avoid facing any major delays.

The spokesman said: “Depending on the severity of the storm, there could be significant disruption.

“We are advising passengers to check before they travel and to be aware that there may be disruption (today).

“We will do what we can to run as many services as we can and to minimise disruption, but much of what is possible will depend on what happens with the storm.”

John McTaggart, head of on-road services at the Highways Agency, added: “Road users are urged to check traffic and weather conditions before setting out on journeys and to heed any advice such as speed restrictions once they are on the strategic road network.

“Be aware of sudden gusts of wind and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space.”

Check www.eadt.co.uk throughout today for updates on the storm.

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