UK weather: Travel chaos continues as King's Cross train delays add to snow on roads

Some drivers stuck in queues for four hours and two airports forced to close

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The Independent Online

Drivers were wading along snow-covered motorways to recover their abandoned cars this morning as rail passengers faced delays and cancellations across the country.

The worst of the snow is over, according to the Met Office, but it will be slow to melt in near freezing temperatures and there is a warning for ice over much of the UK.

Anyone hoping to avoid the wintry conditions on roads today was faced with chaos on parts of the rail network, with trains to and from King's Cross in London cancelled all day because of overrunning engineering works.

Shuttle buses were taking passengers to Finsbury Park, where amended services were due to run north to Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland.

But huge numbers of extra passengers flooding into the north London station forced it to be  temporarily closed because of overcrowding on Saturday morning, with travellers comparing it to a "war zone". Tickets are being made valid on Sunday and Monday because of the inconvenience.

Signalling problems near Southampton were causing delays and cancellations on South West Trains between Salisbury, Romsey, Portsmouth and Fareham.

Fallen trees brought down by high winds overnight were affecting services through Basingstoke, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells, while over-running engineering works between London Paddington and Hayes were delaying services on routes to Oxford, Cardiff and Exeter.

People were hit by trains in Northampton and Gowerton, in Wales, also causing temporary line closures.

Last night saw roads in Yorkshire grind to a halt in heavy snowfall, as many motorists chose to abandoned their stuck vehicles in Sheffield after queuing for up to four hours.

Many drivers became marooned by heavy snow in Yorkshire, Chesterfield and the Peak District, where the RAC said people were experiencing “big problems”.

“We are rescuing people who are bogged down in snow there," a spokesperson said.

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Snow at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport, which closed temporarily on Friday night

That seems to be the biggest area of problems in the UK. We are seeing higher volumes of calls than we would usually get on a Saturday this time of year. Some motorists are abandoning their vehicles."

Liverpool's John Lennon Airport and Leeds Bradford International in Yorkshire closed while their runways were cleared of snow as a band of wintry weather crossed the country from Merseyside and north Wales through the Midlands and Yorkshire.

Both airports were reporting arrivals and departures resumed as normal on Saturday morning but delays were still being reported at Manchester Airport.

Leek, near the Peak District in Staffordshire, saw the worst of the snow with 10cm (4 in), the Met Office said, with Cranwell in Lincolnshire also seeing 7cm (3 in).

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Maisy Byrne, aged nine, (left) and sister Lulu Byrne, aged seven, have fun as snow falls on Boxing Day in Gateacre, Liverpool

Police warned of hazardous conditions last night, especially in Staffordshire and Cheshire, with several roads made impassable.

Staffordshire Police tweeted: "Reports of difficult road conditions across Staffordshire due to snow, Please only travel tonight if necessary."

Cheshire Police added: "Roads around Delamere/Frodsham looking quite treacherous due to weather, Please drive with care."

Leicestershire Police warned of snow causing disruption in the north of the county, urging people to only travel if "absolutely necessary" and to avoid the A1, where large vehicles were stuck.

Snow had been predicted to fall in parts of north Wales, the North West and the Midlands, with a Met Office Level Three amber cold weather alert in place and a yellow warning of snow across a large swathe of the UK since yesterday morning.

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Maisy Byrne, 9, left, and sister Lulu Byrne, 7, have fun as snow falls in Gateacre, Liverpool

A forecaster said that the Pennines and Peak District also saw plenty of snow, predicting that after a peak on Friday evening it would ease off into Saturday morning.

The snow made conditions difficult for some of yesterday's football matches, including in the West Midlands as West Bromwich Albion lost 3-1 to Manchester City in a game played in a blizzard at The Hawthorns.

The Met Office had earlier said there was a 90 per cent chance of severe cold, ice or snow in parts of England between this afternoon and New Year's Eve.

An area including Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the Midlands, East Anglia, the North West, Yorkshire and as far south east as London and Kent has been put on a separate yellow alert for snow.

Christmas night was the coldest of the year so far, with minus 8.5C (16.7F) recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire.

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A decorative snowman surrounded by real snow outside a house in Eccleston Park, near Prescot, Merseyside

Temperatures could also drop as low as minus 10C (14F) in some places at the start of next week as the cloud and wet weather gives way to clearer skies.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: "As winter weather grips some areas of the country we would advise people intending to travel to check weather and local conditions before they set out.

"The Highways Agency and local highway authorities across the country are working hard to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

"Passengers travelling into or out of Kings Cross affected by over running engineering work should check with National Rail Enquiries for service information."

Additional reporting by PA

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