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.

Rail

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.

Airports

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable