Snow brings road and rail misery

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Published: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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Rail and road travellers suffered a morning of misery as snow and ice caused delays to train services and widespread problems for motorists.

Signalling problems, broken down trains and “congestion” hit the railways, especially in the South East after the first serious fall of snow of the winter hit the region.

Some trains were cancelled, while others were delayed on routes including the West Coast Mainline between Northampton and London Euston.

Meanwhile, it was estimated that traffic jams led to around 700 hours of delay for motorists in the morning rush hour.

Union leaders blamed cuts in maintenance for the problems which have hit rail services since the start of the year.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association said: “Tens of thousands of commuters are suffering in freezing weather because we are seeing cuts in maintenance staff to meet cuts imposed on Network Rail by Whitehall bureaucrats.

“Despite record passenger numbers on the network, NR is cutting maintenance workers after the ORR cut almost £2 billion from its budget up until 2019.

“The left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing. The only people to suffer seem to be the poor old passengers.”

Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: “RMT has warned repeatedly that cuts to maintenance and staffing have left our railways ill-equipped to deal with routine conditions and the slightest hint of adverse weather tips us into chaos.

“Those who have ignored those warnings are wholly responsible for the disruption, cancellation and delays hammering rail and tube services this morning.

“All the Government hot air about building rail resilience has been exposed again as just that. Passengers and staff alike are caught in the poisonous cocktail of cuts and privatisation and the only answer is public ownership.”

Signalling problems in the Bletchley area mean there will be disruption “until further notice”, London Midland said, advising p assengers to travel only if it is essential.

In a statement the company said: “London Midland is working closely with Network Rail to resolve the issue and we apologise if your journey is affected.”

While Virgin Trains have since said some signalling has been restored it added that cancellations may still occur.

There were major problems on the roads during the rush hour this morning caused by ice and snow.

At 08.50 there were 7,096 separate congestion hotspots causing 699 hours of delay, according to TomTom Traffic.

There were 5,135 miles of tailbacks across the country – over 2000 miles more than the average total jam length during a winter Tuesday morning peak of 3,076 miles.

In the Greater London area alone, there were 2,814 traffic hotspots causing tailbacks of 1,901 miles – nearly four times the Tuesday morning average of 501 miles, it was found.

The worst affected road was the M25 between J20 and J25 towards Hatfield, with stationary traffic for 14 miles causing delays of up to 100 minutes, according to TomTom’s Traffic data.

There were also delays of 100 minutes on the A43 between Kettering and Northampton.

In Scotland, there were 220 congestion hotspots causing tailbacks of 164 miles in the Edinburgh and Glasgow areas. On a normal Tuesday rush hour, there would be 89 miles of delays in and between the two cities.

Other rail problems included delays of up to an hour between Cambridge and Stansted Airport because of a broken down train at Great Chesterford; delays of up to 20 minutes between Virginia Water and Weybridge in Surrey because of a signalling problem, while a similar issue at Faversham caused delays of up to 90 minutes between Ramsgate / Canterbury East and Gillingham.

Published: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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