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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Anger as rail firm cancels dozens of trains after less than an inch of snow falls while commuters face freezing conditions on way home

By MARTIN ROBINSON and MARK DUELL

Flurry: Motorist drive through snow showers on the A14 at Bar Hill in Cambridgeshire, as snow hit parts of England today, prompting fears of travel chaos

-Rail company Greater Anglia branded an 'embarrassment' by campaigners
-Cold weather takes hold of all UK with snow falling in almost every area
-Travel chaos as bad weather sits over Scotland, east England and London
-Met Office says its weather warning level is one below national emergency
-Roads and airports affected and ask that travellers take extra time
-10-car pile-up on the M4 into London while other roads are closed
-Trains from London to East Anglia disrupted - 60mph limit imposed
-Rescue firms dealing with thousands more call outs today than usual

Dangerous: Snow and ice conditions resulted in a car coming off the road on the A635 through Saddleworth Moor

Rail company Greater Anglia was today branded an ‘embarrassment’ by train campaigners for cancelling services and imposing speed restrictions - after less than an inch of snow had fallen.
It cancelled 24 trains and passengers endured 30-minute delays as speeds were cut to 60mph on some services between London and Cambridge, Southend, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.

Disruption: High speed rail service to St Pancras arrives at snow covered Broadstairs station. Some services across the country were delayed or cancelled because of the bad weather - but not this one

The disruption came as it was revealed overnight temperatures could drop to as low as -8C in the countryside - and -3C in urban areas - while more snow is expected for eastern parts of England.
Greater Anglia, which acted at lunchtime after 0.8 inches of snow fell, with another two inches due later, insisted most services were running - and snow may damage engines and trackside equipment.

Blanketed: Spectacular aerial images of the Yorkshire Dales blanketed in snow

Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for campaign group Railfuture, said: ‘Any train should be able to cope with a little bit of snow, so this is an embarrassment for Greater Anglia.
'It illustrates the way the UK is not geared up for snow compared to other European countries.
‘Greater Anglia is being cautious, but we’re sceptical of the argument that snow could damage trackside equipment, as it would have to be a large chunk of snow to do that.

Thrill: Evie Wilcox enjoys the snow in Nottingham today - the area of Britain that has had the most so far today

Nice weather for it: Tourists shelter under umbrellas as they go punting on Cambridge's River Cam in heavy snowfall

‘It would cost billions to snow-proof the UK rail network, but passengers wouldn’t want to pay for that - so the choice is either get their slowly or risk the train breaking down.’
But a Greater Anglia spokesman said: ‘Speed restrictions reduce the risk of snow being drawn into electric motors, which can cause damage when it melts, and prevent the build-up of snow and ice on underside of trains, which can damage tracks or signals when it falls from the train.
‘Speed restrictions are a preventative measure so we can run as run as robust as service as possible.’

Winter wonder: Two-year-old Carmela enjoys her first sledging experience on hilly Chevin Golf Club in Derbyshire

Keeping the runway open: Snow ploughs in action clearing the runway of snow and ice at Newcastle Airport

She added: 'The vast majority of our services are running normally. We run over 1,900 train services a day and today we've cancelled 24 because of the winter weather.
'We would stress that the vast majority of our services are running normally and in taking these precautionary measures, we can minimise the effect of any possible disruption to our train fleet caused by damage to the electric motors.

Dusting: Even the famous statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Westminster, which faces Big Ben and parliament had snow on its shoulders this morning

source: dailymail



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