Bookies slash odds on coldest-ever January

Freezing weather looks set to grip Britain for at least another week, forecasters said yesterday as road and rail networks struggled to function.

Freezing weather looks set to grip the UK for at least another week, forecasters said today, as the road and rail networks struggled to function in icy temperatures.



Commuters endured disruption as they returned to work and thousands of school children enjoyed an extra day off due to the weather.



Grit stocks in England are holding up according to the Highways Agency but Fife council in Scotland warned yesterday that its salt supply was "critically low".



A Highways Agency spokesman said: "We have sufficient salt stocks available for treatment of the strategic road network.



"Our fleet of salt spreaders and snow ploughs has been working flat out to keep our roads safe and serviceable for use. We will continue to treat the roads for as the long as the cold weather continues."



He warned drivers to take extra care and to check travel advice before setting out.



After a freezing night during which temperatures dipped to minus 12C (10F) in places, a series of accidents led to jams today on major road routes, particularly in the West Midlands.



A vehicle fire closed a section of the M6 in Warwickshire and part of the nearby M42 was also shut, as was the M6 Toll slip road to the southbound M6 in the West Midlands.



An accident closed a section of the A38 in Staffordshire, while broken down vehicles led to congestion on the A2 in Kent, the M1 in Leicestershire and the M5 in the West Midlands.



Over-running rail engineering works caused 60-minute rush-hour delays to trains in and out of London's Liverpool Street station.



And on London Underground there were part-suspensions on the District and Hammersmith and City lines due to signal failures.



Even the fountains in Trafalgar Square iced over in the sub-zero temperatures.



Elsewhere Merseyrail services were delayed by up to 30 minutes and rail passengers were hit by poor weather in Scotland which led to delays between Glasgow and Edinburgh.



Buses replaced trains between Ormskirk and Preston and between Boston and Skegness in Lincolnshire, while a signalling problem near Dagenham Dock in Essex led to delays on services to and from Fenchurch Street station in London.



Temperatures in central London were only expected to reach 2C (36F) today with the top temperatures for the whole of the UK likely to be only 4C (39F) - in Cornwall.



Bookmaker Paddy Power cut the odds on this being the coldest January on record from 5/1 to 7/4.



Brendan Jones, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "We're getting winds from the north and the east at the moment and this is bringing in cold air from the Arctic and or Scandinavia.



"It's going to stay pretty chilly for the next few days. There are going to be frosts overnight and day-time temperatures are going to struggle to get above freezing.



"It looks like this cold weather is going to be with us for a while. It's likely to continue for at least a week."



By 8am, the AA had already attended about 6,000 breakdowns since midnight. This is about two and half times more than the AA would attend on a normal Monday, with today likely to be the busiest 24 hours ever, with the organisation likely to attend more than 25,000 breakdowns by the end of the day.



The previous busiest day during the current cold spell was on December 21 when the AA had its busiest day for 10 years, attending about 22,000 breakdowns.



The AA said a fortnight of freezing temperatures had left thousands of cars stranded on drives with flat batteries and frozen engines. Its patrol teams reported many accidents on slippery roads.



The Highways Agency reported heavy traffic on many routes including the A21 in East Sussex, the A12 in Essex, the M60 in Greater Manchester, the A2 in Kent, the A38 in Devon, the M27 in Hampshire and the A52 in Derbyshire.



The AA warned that the roads were likely to be busier tomorrow when worsening weather conditions combined with the return to school in many areas.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before