Posted 20th December 2010 | 1 Comment

Trains hit by weather, but Heathrow is 'virtually closed'

THE bitter weather is causing fresh disruption to train services in many areas again today. East Coast Main Line operators are all operating a reduced service, after a major overhead line failure at St Neots yesterday afternoon, and there’s also disruption in parts of the south west and south east, the west Midlands and central northern England.

Overnight temperatures fell below minus 10 C in many places, with last night’s record believed to have been at Chesham in Buckinghamshire, where minus 19.6 C was reported.

South West Trains has been affected by the freezing conditions, with no services running on a number of suburban routes, including Surbiton to Hampton Court, in the Shepperton area and between Leatherhead and Effingham Junction.

In Scotland there are no trains north of Inverness, and services have also been suspended on a number of routes in the central belt, including Milngavie-High Street (Glasgow), Glasgow Queen Street-Anniesland via Maryhill, Glasgow Queen Street-Cumbernald and Edinburgh-Glenrothes.

There has been fresh snow in the south west overnight, with up to 10cm falling in Devon. There are no First Great Western services between Exeter and Barnstaple, or between Plymouth and Gunnislake. A general warning of possible delays and cancellations has been issued for all Great Western routes. Some main roads in Devon are also closed.

Other train operators warning of problems include Northern and National Express East Anglia, while London Midland is urging passengers not to attempt to use its services to Birmingham New Street ‘unless it's absolutely necessary’.

East Coast, First Capital Connect (Great Northern), Grand Central and First Hull Trains are all operating a reduced service today, after the overhead lines on all four tracks failed at St Neots yesterday afternoon. Hundreds of passengers were reported to be stranded at Peterborough in particular, with replacement buses also scarce because of the weather.

Network Rail said the cause of the collapse was not yet known, but its engineers had worked overnight in temperatures as low as minus 17 C to repair the damage, and that all four tracks had been restored by first thing this morning. However, services remain disrupted, partly because many trains had been left in the wrong place by yesterday's closure.

Other transport modes have been even more seriously affected. There are warnings of treacherous road conditions almost everywhere, while Heathrow Airport is ‘virtually closed’, and the airport’s operator BAA has apologised to the thousands of people who were forced to sleep in the terminal buildings, many for the second night running. It’s hoped that some flights can be resumed this morning.

Reader Comments:

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  • Rosalind Willatts, market harborough, UK

    I am sure Netwrok Raill is doing its best to keep trains running, but are not the public expecting much more of them than is possible? How do todays problems and achievements compare with the winter of 1963, when we had snow for two and a half months and we just accepted it and went on living.

    Perhaps it is good for the public at large to realise that it cannot dominate every force of nature but rather that it should adjust its behaviour to nature. .