Monday, December 24, 2007

Pre-Christmas travel chaos on UK roads

Tragedy before Christmas as one woman dies on Britain's roads

Fog brought chaos for many Christmas travellers with roads gridlocked and air flights delayed. Several accidents closed a number of major routes and at least one person died on Britain’s roads. The A127 in Essex was closed for more than 12 hours after a woman in her forties was killed late Saturday night. Police believe that her car may have been targeted by vandals after several motorists reported their cars being hit by objects near the accident spot. Essex police have said they were dealing with a possible murder inquiry [Sky News / BBC]. The road closure forced last minute Christmas shoppers onto local roads and traffic tail-backed onto the M25 with further delays reported after minor accidents compounded problems. Two people had to be cut free by firefighters after their cars were involved in crashes. One hit a house in Grays, south Essex, and the female driver was trapped for over an hour before being released. In the west country a multi-car pile-up resulted in at least one woman being airlifted to hospital. The crash involving 15 cars and a coach shut the M5 near Bristol for several hours last night [BBC].

Airports also suffered greatly from the fog with many travellers facing major delays. Heathrow reported at least 86 flights cancelled while Gatwick cancelled 21 flights. London City airport cancelled more than 30 flights. Many people had to camp down in airport lounges waiting for the fog to lift [BBC].

Those that attempted to use trains were least affected by the weather, but travellers to London’s Liverpool Street had their journeys severely disrupted because of engineering works [BBC]. And anyone wanting to travel on Christmas Day will find themselves stranded with most bus and tube services suspended. Taxis are still running, but they will be charging more for their services.

Many were still using their own cars to travel about today, mainly to get to supermarkets for last minute presents and bargains as some shops cut prices to entice shoppers. Queues in many supermarkets were very long and car parks overflowed with shoppers’ vehicles [BBC]. The foggy weather is expected to ease over then next few days with rain sweeping across many parts of Britain. Temperatures are also expected to lift a little from the freezing conditions which have affected much of the country over the two weeks [BBC].

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