Icy conditions cause more travel misery

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The Independent Online

Commuters endured another morning of hazardous journeys to work today, with roads rendered treacherous by icy conditions and rail services badly disrupted.

There were problems for air travellers too, with British Airways and easyJet among the airlines having to cancel flights.

On the roads, a series of accidents on some major routes added to difficulties for drivers, who faced the problem of navigating ice-bound side roads before reaching better conditions on gritted main routes.

BA axed flights at Gatwick and Heathrow, while easyJet cancelled around 70 flights at Gatwick.

All the major airports were open today but passengers experienced delays and cancellations.

Meanwhile a Eurostar train broke down in the Channel Tunnel, just weeks after thousands of passengers were stranded inside the cross-country link.

Eurostar said the Brussels to London service had to be pulled out by a diesel locomotive after it stopped en route from Brussels to London.

The train was being taken to Ashford, where passengers would transfer to another service before continuing their journey to St Pancras.

Nearly all the train companies reported disrupted services, with commuters suffering not only a reduction in frequency on some routes but problems caused by broken-down trains.

The Southern and Southeastern train companies were among those operating to revised timetables today. There were no trains on Southeastern services between Sittingbourne and Sheerness-on-Sea in Kent and services were delayed between London Bridge and Cannon Street stations due to a broken-down train.

Southeastern said its services would finish earlier than normal today.

National Express East Anglia and Stansted Express services were delayed in the morning rush-hour by overhead wire problems at Hackney Downs in east London.

The Chiltern train company had reduced services between London's Marylebone station and Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, while a broken-down train at Bicester North led to delays between Princess Risborough and Banbury.

On the East Coast Main Line, there was a reduced service between London and Leeds and poor weather led to speed restrictions, with journeys taking up to an hour longer than usual.

First Great Western (FGW) was unable to run trains between Westbury, Melksham and Swindon in Wiltshire, or between Westbury and Brighton. FGW also had to axe some high-speed services between London and Cheltenham, Bristol and Cardiff.

First TransPennine Express was unable to operate trains between Carlisle and Edinburgh.

One the roads, the fire service reported today that one person had been killed and another seriously injured when they were hit by a lorry on the A1 near Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire last night. It is thought the pair had got out of their own vehicle following another collision.

Sections of major routes closed today included the A628 in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, the A66 in Cumbria and the A1(M) in County Durham.

A fuel spillage caused delays on the M20 in Kent, while there were lane closures on the M48 in Gloucestershire.

Kent Police warned motorist to beware of treacherous conditions on the roads, where abandoned vehicles were causing an obstruction to drivers.

Sussex Police said motorists should venture out only if "absolutely necessary".

Driving conditions across Wales remained difficult today, with police advising the public against travelling if it could be avoided.

Traffic Wales, the Welsh Assembly's online traffic management and information service, carried a list of "critical traffic alerts".

They included the closure of the A470 in both directions between Rhayader and Doldowlod, which will remain until tomorrow, due to an accident.

The A4233 Maerdy Mountain Road was closed in both directions due to poor driving conditions.

Driving conditions were poor in both directions on the A40 between Carmarthen and Haverfordwest.

Motorists using the M4 were warned that conditions were poor in both directions, particularly from junction 22 to junction 30 at Cardiff Gate.

The A4061 was closed in both directions between Rhigos and the Bwlch Mountain Road due to poor driving conditions.

Icy conditions were causing some difficulties for the transport network in the South West but most main routes were moving freely.

Bristol International Airport was open but there were delays and some cancellations to flights.

First Great Western was operating a reduced timetable across some of its network due to the weather.

Services were suspended between Swindon and Westbury, with reduced services between Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth and to Severn Beach.

Buses were running through Bristol and Gloucestershire but there were no buses in Yeovil, Somerset, and only a handful of services in Wiltshire.

Overnight Wiltshire Council highway teams salted about half of the road network in the county - approximately 1,350 miles of road on most of the A and B routes.

The A4 Chilvester Hill in Calne, Wiltshire, was closed after a burst water main caused icy havoc on the road.