Snow clears after another bout of disruption

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The big chill returned to parts of Britain today as heavy snowfalls and ice caused disruption on the road and rail network.

Kent and East Sussex suffered the worst of the bad weather overnight with falls of up to four inches (10cm) and drifting creating deeper-lying snow in places.

Key roads in both counties, including the A259 between Eastbourne and Bexhill, and the M20, A28 and A2 in Kent, were treacherous for drivers.

Dover Coastguard deployed four of its 4x4 vehicles to help stranded staff and patients to and from hospitals in Eastbourne and Hastings.

Some trains run by operators Southeastern and Southern were subject to delays and cancellations because of the icy conditions.

And more than 200 schools and nurseries in Kent were shut, while more than 60 were closed in East Sussex ahead of next week's half-term holidays.

Sub-zero temperatures were experienced in many places that missed out on snow, with the lowest temperature of minus 8C recorded in Shap, Cumbria.

The chilly weather will linger into the weekend but forecasters said the cold snap would not immediately be as severe as in December or January.

Andy Ratcliffe, a forecaster with Meteogroup UK, the weather division of the Press Association, said the heaviest snow would die out by this afternoon.

He said: "Overnight, Kent and East Sussex had a line of heavy snow showers moving in off the North Sea which continued through the morning.

"Tonight looks dry across the whole of Kent and East Sussex, but there is the chance of the odd snow shower, especially in south-eastern parts of Kent.

"Generally across England tomorrow will be rather cloudy with the chance of an odd wintry shower but it will be fairly light."

Chief Inspector Simon Black, of Kent Police, said all main routes in the county were "passable with care" but some were down to a single lane.

A force spokesman said: "The advice for anyone travelling on the county's roads in the mid, north and west of the county is to allow extra time for their journey or use public transport.

"Those in the east and south of Kent are advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary. Motorists should check before setting out to establish road conditions and any delays."

Cross-channel sailings from Dover's eastern docks with P&O Ferries and SeaFrance to Calais, Norfolkline to Dunkirk and LD Lines to Boulogne were running normally, with space available on all services.

But a Port of Dover spokesman said: "Passengers wishing to travel to the port of Dover are advised to allow extra time due to the severe weather conditions in the Dover area."

The Association of Train Operating Companies said around seven out of 10 trains arrived on time in the areas affected by snow.

A spokesman said all routes were open, no revised timetables have been put in place and 90% of trains ran on time across the network at 10.45am today.

He said: "There has been limited disruption in a very small number of areas affected by snow and ice this morning, but across the network punctuality remains generally as high as it would be on a normal day.

"Train companies will remain vigilant and continue to work round the clock with Network Rail to keep punctual and reliable services running."

Passengers in areas affected by snow should go to the National Rail Enquiries website for up-to-date information.