Snow, fog and ice are causing travel chaos around the UK on Monday morning as roads, rail services and airports are affected by winter weather.
Drivers have reported being stuck in their cars for hours as major roads including the M25 have been closed and some train companies have issued a “do not travel” warning to rail passengers. The Met Office issued several yellow weather warnings for snow, ice and freezing fog throughout Sunday and Monday and has now issued a new warning for ice in eastern and south-east England until 11am on Tuesday. It has also issued snow and ice warnings for much of Scotland and Yorkshire & The Humber from Tuesday until Thursday, warning of continued travel disruption until the end of the week.
Roads in eastern and south-east England are currently among the worst hit. Drivers on the M25 were stranded for several hours due to the UK’s busiest motorway being closed in both directions between Junctions 23 and 25 in Hertfordshire. National Highways said the road had now reopened after being cleared and treated but urged drivers in the south-east to only travel if “absolutely essential” as snow continued to cause delays and disruption on roads across the region.
Motoring organisations also reported far higher than normal call-outs on Monday morning. RAC breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said it had seen more than 4,000 callouts by 10am - a 40% jump over a normal December Monday, while AA president Edmund King said the breakdown service was seeing 25% more callouts than normal and urged drivers to be properly prepared. He said: “The conditions show that it is essential to be prepared if you are driving. If you must drive is to take it easy and leave a much longer distance from the vehicle in front.” He also urged drivers to check fuel levels and take warm clothing, a charged mobile phone, food and drink.
Rail travel is also severely affected with some operators telling passengers not to try and travel by train. Southeastern and Greater Anglia both issued “do not travel” warnings early on Monday with some lines closed until late morning and some expected to be closed all day. Lines between Kent and London are particulary affected, with travellers urged to check the latest status updates before travelling. ScotRail has also reported disruption to services in Scotland, where temperatures dropped as low as -15.7C overnight.
The rail disruption comes ahead of four days of strike action scheduled for this week
Air travellers have also been affected over the weekend and into Monday. Gatwick and Stansted airports closed their runways on Sunday to clear snow before reopening them early on Monday morning. However all of the airports serving London have said they are experiencing ongoing disruption. More than 100 flights across UK airports were cancelled on Sunday and Monday, with Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Heathrow and London City airports among the worst affected.
An easyJet spokeswoman said the airline was “doing everything possible” to ease the disruption for passengers. She said: “Airlines operating to and from the UK today are experiencing some disruption to their flying programmes due to adverse weather, with a number of cancellations at Luton and Gatwick airports which are both affected by snow.
“Flights were also affected yesterday as snow closures affected Manchester, Liverpool, London Gatwick and London Luton airports with some flight cancellations and diversions. We are doing all possible to minimise the disruption for our customers, including providing hotel rooms and meals for those passengers affected by the cancellations.”
Travel around London has also been badly hit by the snow with virtually all Underground lines facing “severe” delays and services partly suspended on the Jubilee, Northern and Central lines The Overground is facing similar problems, with delays and several routes cancelled entirely.