Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Winters' Tale

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300 spend night on train, 2,000 flights cancelled, roads gridlocked... and there's another EIGHT INCHES of snow on the way 
The big freeze tightened its grip on Britain today with scores of cancelled railway services, the closure of two airports and chaos on the roads bringing the South to a standstill.

Six inches of snow in Kent overnight saw rail operators throw in the towel and cancel many services, leaving commuters with no way of getting into the capital.

Some 300 passengers were forced to spend the night on a stuck Southern train in West Sussex after heavy snow caused a series of line failures.

And forecasters say there could be another eight inches across the east of England today as blizzards are forecast across the South East.

And forecasters warned of the big freeze tightening its grip for the rest of the week, with more snow on the way and temperatures expected to plunge as low as -25C.

On Tuesday night at Orpington, Kent, parents with children were stranded on a train for more than ten hours.

Scores of passengers were forced to sleep in broken-down trains overnight after two trains became stuck in the snow, while passengers stranded at Gatwick faced the prospect of bedding down for another night in the terminal.

Southeastern trains services to Kent and East Sussex were reduced to a fraction of their normal level and hundreds of thousands of regular passengers were unable to get to work. Buses which were ordered to replace them got stuck in the snow which had hit areas around London.

How the M25 became a car park
Congestion was already heavy on the M25 when, at the height of the Tuesday evening rush hour, a lorry jackknifed.

Two clockwise lanes were closed between junctions 8 and 9 for Reigate and Leatherhead in Surrey – and the chaos rapidly spread.

Up to 400 lorries and hundreds more cars became stranded overnight and there were massive queues around the Swanley area where the M25 joins the M20.

The jams stopped all prospect of the motorway being kept running as gritters and snowploughs could not get through.

At its high point late on Tuesday, the gridlock stretched around about a quarter of the 119-mile M25 – from Reigate to the Dartford Crossing.

Paul Watters, head of roads policy for the AA, said the problem was that lorries got into difficulty when going uphill on the icy motorway.

‘They start slithering and sliding around, and their weight compacts the snow so much that it turns into one massive sheet of ice that neither man nor beast can shift.

‘It turns the M25 into one big ice-rink, so the gritters can’t get through.’


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