COMMUTERS who use the c2c network are being urged to only travel if "essential" today as severe damage has caused major disruption.

The south Essex rail firm is warning customers "essential travel only" is advised after a tree fell onto the overhead wires as strong winds battered the country yesterday.

This has caused severe damage to the lines with Network Rail engineers on site working to repair the damage.

However, it is believed repairs may continue into the afternoon peak with 10 rush-hour trains already cancelled between 4.18pm and 6.51pm.

A c2c spokesman said: "The damage is so extensive, fewer services are currently able to run between Barking and Pitsea towards Shoebury.

"A bus replacement service is in operation between Upminster and Grays via Ockendon and Chafford Hundred."

Rail replacement buses were also delayed this morning after a crash on the roads, causing further delays to journeys for commuters.

They added: "Services have been severely affected this morning and may continue into the afternoon peak so we are advising passengers to only travel if essential."