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Travellers angry at snowy shutdown
Written by PA   
Thursday, 02 December 2010 13:40

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Large areas of the country have come to a standstill, raising questions over Britain's capacity to cope in sub-zero conditions.

Thousands of commuters were left high and dry after rail operators cancelled many services altogether, while several major airports closed their doors and motorists faced chaos on the roads after many were forced to spend the night sleeping in their cars.

Meanwhile, 300 passengers found themselves stranded overnight on a Southern train in West Sussex after heavy snow caused a series of line failures at Three Bridges station.

Passenger Rebecca Forsey told the BBC: "It was an absolute nightmare. We had to wait around for several hours in the cold on a freezing platform. We finally got something to eat at 4am."

Bad weather meant thousands of children were turned away from lessons at schools across the country while workers arrived late or were forced to take the day off.

The number of schools forced to close because of the weather has more than doubled overnight, according to the Department for Education. Around 7,000 schools across the UK were shut today compared with about 3,000 yesterday, the Government said.

And as forecasters predicted more wintery weather, critics hit out at Britain's handling of the cold snap. Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said the crisis was costing the economy up to £1.2 billion a day.

Police in the North East denied reports circulating on social networking sites that they were pulling over and fining drivers who had snow on their cars. Both Durham and Northumbria Police spoke out to counter rumours being spread on the internet and via text message.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police confirmed: "As at any time of the year, in the interests of road safety, drivers are required to have a clear view through their windows when driving and officers may speak to drivers if this is not the case. However information appearing on Facebook that we are specifically targeting drivers for having snow on their car is just not the case - it would appear to be just another urban myth."

And road rescue group the AA continued to receive large numbers of calls. Spokesman Gavin Hill-Smith said they were busy with 5,500 breakdowns nationally from midnight to 11am. The rescue centre was receiving about 1,300 calls per hour, which Mr Hill-Smith said was far fewer than yesterday.

 

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