Scotland rail network crippled by weather

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The Independent Online

Scotland's rail network was crippled by snow and freezing temperatures today.

Services to the north were cancelled as icy conditions continued to thwart travel across the country.

Motorists were warned of black ice on the roads but there was better news for air passengers as flights resumed at Edinburgh Airport.

Many schools remained closed, with pupils in East Lothian, the Borders and Midlothian council areas off until Monday.

Edinburgh City Council said all secondary schools would open along with 44 primary schools.

A statement on train operator ScotRail's website said: "The extreme weather continues and ScotRail is maintaining as resilient a service as possible when alternative road options are extremely daunting.

"However, due to the extreme weather and plummeting temperatures, we have no option but to withdraw the following services: West Highland Line, Far North Line Aberdeen - Inverness, Perth - Inverness and Glasgow Queen St - Inverness."

Kinbrace in the Highlands was the coldest place overnight, with a low of minus 20.9C. Braemar was not much warmer at minus 20.4C.

Aberdeen saw temperatures of minus 16.8, Edinburgh was minus 15C and Glasgow was minus 10.5C.

More snow showers will sweep the country today as winds from the west bring a new band of severe weather.

The east of Scotland has seen the brunt of heavy snowfall this week but it should see lighter showers later today, according to forecasters.

Matt Dobson, from MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "The winds from the east are finally giving way to winds from the west.

"There's a band of sleet and snow which will fall across central Scotland with rain and sleet close to the west coast.

"There's a low risk of freezing rain for a time in western coastal areas.

"After a very cold start temperatures across much of Scotland will hover just below zero.

"Temperatures on the west coast will rise during the day above zero to around 5C or 6C.

"Tonight there will be patchy sleet and snow which will move across the east and Edinburgh but it shouldn't be as heavy as previous days.

"A widespread frost and ice will affect Scotland tonight."

Bands of volunteers have been helping others in their area who cannot get out due to the snow.

Auxiliary nurse Samantha Glennie and her brother Lee in Dundee set up a Facebook page, Helping The Dundee Folk in Distress.

The description on the site said: "Anyone needing bread, milk or any other groceries at this bad time in Dundee, we will come and deliver within Dundee area ... we buy the stuff for you, give you the receipt and you give us however much it cost and a small donation for petrol :)"

The Scottish Government announced yesterday that regulations on how long gritter drivers can be behind the wheel had been suspended due to the severe weather.

In the Highlands, Northern Constabulary have agreed a deal with a group of 4x4 drivers who will help officers during the winter months.

The force has teamed up with the Highland 4x4 Response Group which will provide vehicles and drivers to police when required.

Sergeant Robbie MacDonald, of the force's emergency planning unit, said: "Clearly winter weather can throw up a number of logistical problems for police and the support being given by the Highland 4x4 Response Group is warmly welcomed and will, no doubt, prove to be a valuable resource in the coming weeks and months."