Travellers need true grit in ice-bound Britain

Travelling Britons braved fresh icy blasts today as the severe weather did its best to wreck the country's transport links.

With councils running low on salt stocks to treat roads, travellers had to show true grit just to complete the simplest of journeys.



Transport Secretary Lord Adonis told his Cabinet colleagues that salting of motorway hard shoulders was being ended to preserve stocks for other areas.



Road conditions on major routes improved today, but many side roads remained treacherous.



Eurostar was just one of the train companies operating a reduced service today, prompting Europe Minister Chris Bryant to complain on the Twitter website about the Channel Tunnel company.



Once again, a series of broken-down trains added to the problems of rail passengers already having to cope with fewer-than-normal trains, with a breakdown at Birmingham causing delays of up to an hour.



Major airports remained open, but British Airways and easyJet were among carriers that had to cancel flights.



Flight cancellations at Gatwick - where more than 100 flights were axed yesterday - were down to 17 today, but passengers at the West Sussex airport were scornful of the UK's ability to cope with an extreme winter.



David Spencer, 49, from Guildford, Surrey, who was trying to set off on a week's holiday to Spain, said: "It's disgraceful that, with the first snowflake, the country goes to pot."



At Heathrow's Terminal 5 overnight, British Airways asked passengers on some arriving flights to leave the airport without waiting for their luggage, with the bags being sent on to them later.



BA said the problem had been due to the knock-on effect of flight delays plus icy conditions but that the baggage situation was back to normal for daytime arrivals today.



The Highways Agency, which is responsible for England's motorways and major A roads, said that it would continue to salt hard shoulders on the sections of the M6 and M42 on which road users are allowed to drive at busy times.



Local authorities said they were revising their salt plans to ensure the most important roads were gritted.



Harrow council in north west London said it had ordered sufficient supplies of salt but they had simply not been delivered. In Brighton and Hove, parking attendants were diverted from handing out tickets to help shovel snow and grit pavements.



In Cumbria, police were informed of a member of the public who emptied a grit bin and then tried to sell the contents to other residents.



For the first time for some days, no major roads in England were closed today, although broken-down vehicles caused lane closures and delays.



The RAC said its patrol teams had attended 5,000 call-outs by midday today and 250,000 since the cold weather began on December 18.



It said it was receiving around 1,500 calls an hour - more than twice as many as normal. The busiest areas today were Manchester and the Wirral, Scotland, the West Midlands and Wales.



The AA said it had dealt with 340,000 breakdowns since the evening of December 17 - more than double the normal amount over this period.



AA president Edmund King said: "In our entire history we have never been as busy as we have been over the last few weeks."



On the railways, some services were cancelled and, in places, road conditions were too poor for bus replacement services to run.



The Association of Train Operating Companies said that, up to 1pm, a total of 62% of the trains due to run under the revised schedules today had been on time, with 31% late and 7% cancelled.



Mr Bryant, who was caught up in a Eurostar delay, posted on the Twitter website: "I am rapidly developing a very severe hatred of Eurostar as we are travelling at about a mile a year."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas