Passengers faced an uphill battle getting to Gatwick on Friday (20 December) after heavy rain caused widespread flooding in south-east England.
Gatwick Express, Southern Rail and Thameslink services have been suspended between Brighton and the airport due to flooding, including in the Balcombe Tunnel.
All lines are blocked and passengers have been advised to avoid travelling until the situation improves.
Additionally, the M23 motorway, which links Gatwick with the M25 and London to the north and Brighton to the south, was also shut due to flooding on Friday morning.
It comes as millions of people aim to make Christmas getaways on Friday, with tens of thousands likely having hoped to depart Gatwick.
According to Abta, more than five million Brits will head abroad over Christmas and New Year, with Friday likely to be the “peak travel day”.
“Millions of people will be leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting high numbers,” said Abta, adding Gatwick would be “very busy” while Heathrow was expecting record departures over the festive period.
Southern Rail said in a tweet: “If you are travelling between Brighton and Gatwick airport, we strongly advise to not travel until further notice as we are unable to provide a service at present.
“Rail replacement buses have been confirmed however due to road conditions are being delayed to stations. The advice remains to not travel until further notice, Network Rail have dispatched track maintenance teams to the area to assess & take action that may help.”
This is the current situation at the scene of the flooding on the #M23. As you can see it is quite a flow of water from the adjacent land on to the road. Our contractors are trying to deal with this as best as we can but the road is expected to remain closed for a while yet. pic.twitter.com/lxqMu6QkRm— Highways England (@HighwaysSEAST) December 20, 2019
Highways England added: “#M23 in West Sussex is closed BOTH ways between J10 #Crawley and J11 #PeasePottage due to flooding. @SussexRoadsPol units along with Highways England Traffic Officers and contractors are on scene working to clear the road.”
It comes after a major power failure at Gatwick airport station on Thursday that prevented trains from stopping for several hours.