Snow brings travel chaos to Britain

Snow brings travel chaos to Britain

The big freeze continues to bring the UK to a standstill today as further snowfalls overnight gridlock many rail services and roads. Gatwick and Edinburgh will remain closed after ground staff working throughout the night finally lost the battle to clear the settling snow.

The Met Office has issued heavy snow warnings for much of the eastern side of Britain and some central areas.

The Forth Road Bridge in Scotland was closed for the first time since it opened in 1964 but has now reopened.

In England, heavy snow warnings are in place for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands, East, and London and the South.

Police are advising people not to travel unless absolutely necessary - especially in the worst-hit areas of Scotland, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and south-east England.

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Supt Chris Moon, of Surrey Police, said the county’s conditions were the worst he had ever seen and were likely to deteriorate further.

He added: “I have put out several severe weather warnings in my career, but this one I really must stress.”

Commuter gridlock
Commuter services to and from London continue to suffer, as railways fail to cope with freezing temperatures and snow.

On Tuesday night passengers travelling from London Bridge to Kent spent more than six hours on a broken down train.

Many buses and trains were near-empty during early-morning rush hour today, and tens of thousands of workers stayed at home on Wednesday.

The commuters on the stranded train were forced to wrap themselves in layers of clothes to fight off sub-zero temperatures after it came to a halt in Orpington.

All trains from Victoria Station were cancelled on Tuesday evening. Thousands of commuters fought for places on the handful of trains which did make it out of London.

Other commuters either waited for hours or booked into hotels for the night.

The M25 was gridlocked, as London saw more breakdowns than any other part of the country, according to the AA. The Dartford Bridge was closed and traffic into Kent was halted by a jack-knifed lorry.

Gatwick Airport was forced to close at 10.30pm last night and remains shut today, causing misery for hundreds of travellers hoping to escape from the earliest big freeze seen for years.

Airport spokeswoman Sarah Baranowski said ground staff working throughout the night had not been able to clear the settling snow.

“It is vital that passengers do not make their way to the airport and check our website and with their airline for updates,” she added.

“We need to make sure the runway is safe before all flights can recommence but the snow has not stopped all night.”

London City Airport had cancellations and delays due to the severe weather.

Southeastern rail network also faced severe disruption and delays, and Eurostar trains were running about an hour late.

In the North dozens of drivers were forced to abandon their cars in snowdrifts and make their way home on foot.

As usual in a nation that seems to be caught out every year by the winter, chaos reigned in areas hit by even the lightest snowfalls, where un-gritted streets and sub-zero temperatures made driving impossible or treacherous.

Forecasters warned the severe conditions were likely to last the rest of the week, with rain and sleet adding to the misery in some places.