Breaking News
Nagaland Post Logo
You are here:  Skip Navigation LinksHome » Show story
Heavy snow, ice bring travel chaos across UK
London, Dec 18 (Agencies):
Published on 19 Dec. 2010 12:54 AM IST
Print  Text Size

Christmas travellers are facing further transport chaos as heavy snow falls across many parts of the UK. Hundreds of drivers spent much of the night stuck on the M6 in Greater Manchester, amid disruption on the roads, railways and airports.
Gatwick Airport shut its runway until 1500 GMT, and British Airways cancelled all Heathrow flights until 1700 GMT. Heavy snow warnings are in place across the UK, with “very heavy” alerts for London, the Home Counties and Surrey. BA advised all passengers on BA flights during times affected not to travel to Heathrow on Saturday, and warned of severe disruption at all London airports.
There was also disruption at Exeter, London City, Aberdeen, Bristol and Cardiff airports. Problems were reported on the M61, M58 and M57 overnight, with police advising people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Commuter Stephen Derbyshire, who was stranded on the M6 for five hours, told BBC Radio 5 live: “It is absolute mayhem.” The M6 and M61 reopened at around 0700 GMT after junctions 22-27 and 6-8 respectively had been closed.
In Wales, staff at several hospitals have been struggling to get into work, with two health boards appealing for medical staff to help out over the weekend. Cwm Taf and Cardiff and Vale said they needed help running the Royal Glamorgan, Prince Charles, University Hospital of Wales and Llandough hospitals.
Several roads across the country remain closed and bus services were disrupted in the south. In Northern Ireland freezing conditions continue to make travel difficult following some of the heaviest snowfall for 25 years - with more forecast. Belfast International Airport has reopened, although delays and cancellations are expected, and Belfast City Airport has reopened for the “forseeable future”.
The Northern Ireland Roads Service said slush from Friday had re-frozen overnight and Christmas shoppers should think carefully before setting out by car.
Jon Caudwell, from the Highways Agency, said they were doing their best to keep major roads in England clear but needed help from motorists.
He told 5 live: “We’ve obviously got more and more snow coming, so we’re really going to have to work very, very hard.
“We are asking the public to really seriously consider whether they do need to come out in these conditions and if they do come out in these conditions they really must take extra care.”
BA spokesman Phillip Allport said the airline was the biggest at Heathrow and even a short closure of an hour or two at short notice would be chaotic for passengers.
“Thousands of people would be inconvenienced because BA runs so many flights. A smaller airline can take a chance on the weather not behaving as forecast - BA can’t,” he said.
Passenger Jade Price, whose BA flight to the US capital Washington DC was amongst those cancelled, said Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was “absolute chaos”.
The mother-of-two, from Uxbridge in Middlesex, told the BBC: “We sat on the tarmac with our two small children for four hours with no food before being told that we would not fly because the queue for de-icing was too long.
“Terminal 5 was absolute chaos. All luggage was lost - with no information about how or when it would be returned to us - and people were not given food, travel, or hotel vouchers...
“The disappointment on my four-year-old son’s face when he found out that we we wouldn’t get to see his grandparents was heartbreaking.”
Airport operator BAA said BA aside, there had been no significant cancellations by other airlines at Heathrow.
Spokesman Andrew Teacher told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme both runways had been di-iced and “everything is working”.A Gatwick Airport spokesman said its runway was temporarily closed until at least 1500 GMT to allow crews to clear snow from the runway, de-ice and assess ground conditions. He said: “Over 3cm of snow has now accumulated on the runway and it is now unsafe to operate aircraft.
“With planes travelling at speeds of more than 100mph when they land or take off, it is critically important that the runway is safe as they do so.”
Met Office warnings for heavy snow remain in place across Northern Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and parts of England - with up to 25cm forecast for some areas.
And it issued severe “very heavy” snow warnings for Bedfordshire, Bracknell Forest, Buckinghamshire, Greater London, Hertfordshire, Luton, Slough, Surrey, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Wokingham.
Overnight, temperatures reached minus 17.2C just north of Norwich, minus 14C in Castlederg, Northern Ireland, and minus 13C in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.
Temperatures in England, Wales and Northern Ireland averaged between minus 5C and minus 10C, whilst in Scotland they typically fell to between minus 15C and minus 20C.
Other problems caused by the weather include:
* Lincolnshire County Council said it had already used about 60% of its grit stocks despite starting the winter with 31,600 tonnes - 8,000 more than usual
* The North West Ambulance Service warned of delays reaching emergency patients
* The AA said it had attended 4,000 breakdowns across the UK by 1030 GMT, with calls peaking at 1,200 every hour - twice the normal rate
* Rail operators Southern, Southeastern and South West Trains cancelled services
* A number of weekend sporting fixtures were cancelled including Premiership football matches and the National Hunt meeting at Haydock
* An urgent appeal is being made for blood donors, particularly those who are O negative, as stocks are running low
* Companies have warned of a backlog of deliveries which may not reach customers before Christmas

Comments:(0) Login or Register to post your Comment
(Available for registered users only)
More News
  • 1
  • 2