MERSEYRAIL is warning of changes to its Wirral line timetable this weekend as Storm Ciara heads our way.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for wind covering the whole country on Saturday and Sunday.

According to forecasters, there will be "impacts across the whole of the UK" between 6pm on Saturday and midnight on Sunday. Winds of up to 80mph are expected.

In a statement this afternoon, Merseyrail said: "due to the expected poor weather conditions forecast which will include high winds, Network Rail may implement speed restrictions across the network.

"As a result, an amended timetable will operate on the Chester and Ellesmere Port lines on Sunday with some services departing earlier or later.

"Planned engineering work on the Southport line will still go ahead on Sunday with rail replacement buses in operation between Sandhills and Formby."

"In light of these warnings, we advise people who live near railways to ensure trampolines, gazebos or similar items are fixed in place, as they become airborne very easily in strong winds and can end up on the railway resulting in disruption and danger."

Zoe Hands, operations director at Merseyrail, said: "We apologise to any customers whose travel plans may be affected by Storm Ciara.

"We are working in partnership with Network Rail to ensure the network is as safe for travel as possible.

"Network Rail has chainsaw gangs and operations staff ready to cut down any felled trees and remove other debris from the line, but we are asking everyone to help by ensuring that anything on your property that could blow away is firmly secured.

"If you, or anyone you know, has precarious trees, trampolines or similar items on their property that could fall or be blown onto the railway, please report it to Network Rail’s customer helpline on 0345 711 4141.

"Finally, I would urge all passengers to leave plenty of time for their journey and to check our website for the latest information before they travel.”

Looking ahead to the weekend Met Office meteorologist Grahame Madge described the weather front as "Ciara rather rudely barging her way through", taking conditions from "rather benign" to "very unsettled" adding: "There’s the potential for 80mph gusts in exposed locations across parts of the UK."

And he warned of the risks of "coastal flooding, large winds across sea fronts” as well as possible bridge and road closures".

Mr Madge added: "We could also see some impact on networks, both phone and power."

After a calm start to February, conditions will start to change as the weekend approaches, with winds beginning to increase on Friday.

Mr Madge warned "there are some strong winds ahead of Ciara”, and said that “through Saturday and Friday we’re starting to see these winds strengthen.”

But he said they are “not likely to reach their peak until the middle of the warning period”, through Sunday.

Storm Ciara is the third named storm of the 2019/20 winter season, and follows Storm Atiyah, which hit on December 8-9, and Storm Brendan, which brought wind and rain to the country on January 13-14.

Passengers on all lines are advised to check our website for the most up-to-date information before travelling over the weekend, or contact Merseyrail's customer services team via Twitter @Merseyrail or WhatsApp on 0151 555 1111 for service updates.