Page last updated at 21:58 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow and ice disrupt UK travel ahead of Christmas


The problems caused by snow and ice across many areas of the UK

Snow and ice continue to cause travel chaos across the UK, disrupting the Christmas holiday plans for thousands.

Flights from many airports including Luton, Gatwick, Heathrow, Glasgow and Edinburgh have been disrupted.

Network Rail says services at Glasgow Central Station are returning to normal after hours of disruption. Police say there is "mayhem" on Aberdeen's roads.

Eurostar resumed a limited service on Tuesday, after being closed for three days after extreme weather in France.

Christmas service

In the Aberdeen area, Grampian Police said a number of lorries had become stuck in snow on the A90.

Main roads in the area have been severely congested with traffic moving very slowly.

Further south, police said traffic had ground to a halt on parts of the M74 between Glasgow and north-west England. The southbound carriageway is closed completely near Poneil, South Lanarkshire.

The airfield at Aberdeen Airport was also closed twice because of "persistent and heavy snowfalls".

Network Rail said a broken down train at Glasgow station had been removed and points failures resolved, but passengers have been warned to still expect delays.

Services between Glasgow and Paisley were still subject to delays and cancellations due to a points failure, a spokesman said.

Salt spreader

The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading has cancelled all operations and appointments. A spokesman said they would be treating emergencies only.

Cars travelling to and from Wales experienced tailbacks after the new Severn bridge was closed due to falling ice, while only one lane on the old bridge remained open. Both have since re-opened fully.

The roads in Basingstoke in Hampshire are still icy. Up to 2,000 motorists either abandoned their vehicles or slept in their cars after getting stuck in gridlocked traffic on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, Buckinghamshire County Council urged owners to collect abandoned vehicles "as soon as possible". Thames Valley Police said they were causing an obstruction in the High Wycombe area.

However, all vehicles left on motorways overnight had been removed and owners must pay to get them back, the force said.

Power cuts are currently affecting about 14,000 people in West Berkshire and Hampshire and a further 900 people in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire.

The fire service is urging people to use torches rather than candles.


At the UK's airports, Easyjet flights appear to be the worst affected, with flights from both Luton and Gatwick severely disrupted.

The airline said it had looked into the possibility of operating flights on Christmas Day to help catch up, but it was not "feasible" - despite having had cabin crew on stand-by.

It said alternative arrangements had been made to assist as many customers as possible but there were no guarantees it would be able to get everyone home in time for Christmas.

Other airlines were having similar problems, it added.

All passengers are advised to contact their airline.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood, BBC News, Basingstoke

The town remained under a blanket of white... the weak hazy sunshine having made little impact on snow-covered streets still littered with hundreds of abandoned cars.

Some people were, however, venturing out to recover their vehicles.

Hampshire Police deployed more than 40 4x4 vehicles and borrowed more from the fire and rescue service to patrol the roads and keep a lookout for people in trouble.

Police are asking people to collect their abandoned vehicles if they can do so safely.

However, their advice to those who do take to the roads is to take warm clothes and a means of getting themselves out of trouble.

Eurostar said all trains setting off on Tuesday had arrived as expected, with no reported problems, and passenger backlogs from the weekend have been cleared.

At first only passengers who had been meant to travel on Saturday and Sunday were being allowed to travel, but by lunchtime Eurostar said those who had tickets for Monday and Tuesday would also be allowed to board trains.

Eurotunnel, meanwhile, said it was managing to clear the backlog of cars and lorries waiting to use its Channel Tunnel car service.

Day trip bookings for Wednesday and Thursday have been cancelled, however, and anyone without a reservation has been advised not to show up.

On the Isle of Lewis a 35-year-old man is believed to have frozen to death in his garden on Saturday, after a night out.

Police searching for two men believed to have gone missing while trying to rescue a dog from a lake near Ringstead, Northamptonshire, have recovered a body. Searches resume tomorrow.

In Orkney, an ambulance skidded on ice and overturned, injuring both crew members.

Meanwhile, a woman in Hyde, Greater Manchester, gave birth to a healthy girl in the back of a Mountain Rescue 4x4 vehicle after heavy snow prevented ambulances from reaching her.

Problems persist on public transport in many parts of the UK. Major traffic problems include:



• First Transpennine Express services are being delayed by up to 45 minutes

• Southeastern operating a Saturday timetable service on mainline, metro and high speed routes

• Southern and Gatwick Express operating a reduced service

• Trains suspended between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh

• Services between Glasgow and Paisley still subject to delays and cancellations


• Hazardous conditions on the M60 in Greater Manchester

• Warnings of icy conditions have been issued on the M55 near Blackpool

• Traffic has ground to a halt near junction 16 on the northbound stretch of the M7

• Traffic at a standstill near the Happendon services, southbound on the M74, in Scotland

• Cheshire Police issued a severe weather warning to motorists in the Macclesfield, Congleton, Buxton and High Peak areas


• Easyjet has cancelled more than 150 flights because of the snow. Passengers at Luton have been told they may not get Easyjet flights until January

• Flights disrupted in Scotland mainly because of weather conditions in England and Europe

• Airlines at various airports, including Gatwick and Manchester, are continuing to clear a backlog of flights

Hampshire Constabulary said about 3,000 people were left stranded after vehicles ground to a halt on Monday.

Five emergency rest centres were set up in the Basingstoke area for those who could not get home.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said he would be "asking questions" about the difficulties in Basingstoke, Hampshire, and Reading.


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