x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Relentless snow causes travel chaos in Britain

More heavy snow caused havoc across Britain today, keeping London's Gatwick airport closed for a second day, disrupting rail services and leaving travellers stranded.

LONDON // More heavy snow caused havoc across Britain today, keeping London's Gatwick airport closed for a second day, disrupting rail services and leaving travellers stranded.

Commuters struggled to get to work as Britain's worst early winter weather in almost two decades showed no sign of easing its icy grip.

Met Office forecasters warned of severe weather and heavy snow, particularly in the southern and eastern regions of the country.

Days of sub-zero temperatures and snow, beginning in Scotland and northern England and moving south, have caused chaos and could be costing the economy £1.2 billion a day, according to insurer RSA.

Gatwick, the country's second busiest airport, said it would remained closed until at least 6am tomorrow because of more heavy snowfalls.

Edinburgh airport, operated by BAA, remained closed, but the runway was expected to be clear and open by mid-morning, it said.

Other European airports have been affected by the weather, including Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Prague. Yesterday airports at Geneva in Switzerland and Lyon-Bron in France were forced to close. The French civil aviation authority has asked airlines to cancel 25 per cent of the flights due to depart from Paris Charles de Gaulle and 10% of the flights out of Paris Orly today in anticipation of further problems.

Amid widespread criticism of Britain's inability to cope with bad weather, transport secretary Philip Hammond ordered a review of how transport operators had responded this week.

"Complacency is not an option. There are lessons to be learned from our performance in every bout of bad weather and it is important that we learn those now," Mr Hammond said in a statement.

Last winter was the coldest in Britain for three decades and the authorities had hoped to avoid a repeat of the disruption that had caused.

Eurostar, which runs train services connecting Britain to France and Belgium, said it would be operating a "significantly reduced timetable on Thursday" because of the bad weather.

Eurostar services would be subject to delays of up to 90 minutes and some would be cancelled, it said.

Southern Railway, which runs trains between London and England's south coast, said all its services were suspended because of heavy snow fall, although it would begin a limited service in the London area from 10am

Ice created hazardous conditions on roads across the country.

Around 200 drivers spent a second night sleeping in their vehicles or at a nearby village hall in the northern county of Yorkshire while passengers on a train to the south coast resort of Brighton had to sleep in the carriages, the BBC reported.

Thousands of schools were expected to remain closed, some for the fourth day in a row.

Blizzards and accidents were causing delays and severe disruption on the roads. Police in southern England said driving conditions in some areas were extremely dangerous and urged people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.