Roads, rail and airports – nowhere is spared ordeal by ice and snow

Widespread transport disruption caused by some of the most severe winter weather for a century left many people's Christmas travel plans in tatters and large parts of the country paralysed yesterday.

Breakdown service AA called for "restrictions" and a "risk assessment" on motorways for lorries during extreme weather conditions, after an overturned liquid petroleum gas tanker closed the M25 for seven hours until last night, and drivers in Oxfordshire faced eight hour delays.

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: "There is no doubt jack-knifed lorries caused chaos and been a nightmare in terms of consequences. We should have a risk assessment of the motorway network to identify areas where trucks are most likely to jack-knife or get stuck in snow. Then, just as high-sided lorries are restricted from crossing the Severn bridge in high winds, lorries should be restricted based on the conditions on the ground."

He said that while we need fuel for garages, goods for shops and people are waiting for gifts to be delivered, these measures would help transport keep moving. Mr King added that trucks should be restricted to the inside lane during harsh snow conditions, so if two trucks break down they do not close two-thirds of a motorway.

In France, a ban on heavy vehicles on motorways in extreme weather meant a concert by Lady Gaga at the Palais Omnisports in Paris was cancelled.

Motorists across the UK were urged to exercise "incredible caution" on the roads. A spokesman for the AA's breakdown service said: "Salt on roads is ineffective when it is colder than -9C, and low temperatures overnight will turn side roads into ice rinks." The breakdown service said it was on course to have dealt with 14,000 cases yesterday, double the usual number.

Drivers were queueing for up to eight hours on the A34 in Oxfordshire last night, after more than 80 cars were abandoned on Saturday night and several jack-knifed lorries were blocking the route. The Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was one of thousands forced to abandon his car at the weekend, when 15cm of snow fell in Oxford. "It was very bad out there," he said. "I thought, 'I'm not going to get home tonight and it's going to get dark.'"

The Wales Ambulance Service has warned of potential "long delays" in responding to 999 calls, as more heavy snow is forecast today. It said people should ring 999 only in a life-threatening emergency, as treacherous conditions put a strain on its transport.

In Scotland –where snow and plummeting temperatures were forecast again last night in the Grampian, Highlands and Northern Isles – the Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead reminded the public to set out only when "absolutely necessary". Mr Lochhead said: "Everyone should take heed of the latest weather and transport updates before travelling. Our plan to keep Scotland moving is now in full effect and over 1,000 snow vehicles are being operated around the clock."

Transport for London said it had a "fleet of 38 gritters and 10 quad bikes at work throughout the night, spreading almost 500 tonnes of grit".

The weather is affecting wildlife. The robin is one of several birds at risk of "near extinction" if the icy spell continues, SongBird Survival warned.

On the roads

The AA was called out to more than 14,000 breakdowns yesterday, more than double the usual number, while the M25 was closed between junctions five and six after a petrol tanker overturned. In Scotland, more than 1,000 snow vehicles were working round the clock to clear roads. The M8 was experiencing severe delays due to a breakdown in Livingston, near Edinburgh airport. National Express was running reduced services to Gatwick, while coaches between London and Paris were suspended as French police would not let vehicles pass through Calais.


There were severe delays to all parts of the network, with disruptions reported on Virgin trains, Stansted Express, Southern, South West Trains, London Midland and First Capital Connect.


There were no arrivals to Heathrow throughout the day and only a "handful" of departures, leaving hundreds of people sleeping overnight in the terminals. Gatwick reopened yesterday, but thedisruption continued with passengers told to check flights before travelling to the airport. Flights to and from Stansted, Luton, Exeter, London City, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Cardiff and Birmingham airports were all subject to delay and cancellation.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform