Weather: UK hit by arctic blast

Much of the UK has been hit by the severe weather conditions.

Among those affected were hundreds of rail commuters who were forced to spend a miserable night aboard an abandoned train, an operator said this morning.

Three hundred passengers were stuck at Three Bridges station in West Sussex after a series of line failures.

Yesterday evening one train failed on the line near the station, another train got stuck behind it then the 20.17 from Victoria to Littlehampton joined the queue at 21.30.

Bosses decided to move passengers from the first two trains on to the third and try to continue their journey.

But it was 1.30am before engineers tried to “shunt” it on to a fast lane.

Meanwhile, Derek Turner, director of operations at the Highways Agency, reassured the public there was no shortage of salt.

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“At this stage I don’t think the country has a salt shortage at all. Certainly the Highways Agency has more salt than it had last year, and we have supplies coming from overseas to create a national stockpile should the weather continue,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He advised people not to take journeys unless they were “really necessary”.

Gatwick Airport will remain closed all day today due to the weather conditions, with officials warning it will not reopen until at least 6am tomorrow.

A spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to resume operations, however conditions have deteriorated considerably. Our teams are working around the clock to make the runway safe for aircraft to use and get our airlines and passengers flying again.”

Edinburgh Airport was also closed this morning, but staff were hopeful the runway would reopen later today.

Kent Police reported that around 15cm (6in) of snow fell in the southern part of the county overnight, bringing more traffic disruption during this morning’s rush hour.

Union leaders urged the government today to suspend planned rail fare increases next month after accusing train companies of “failing” to deliver services because of the snow.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said it would be a “scandal” if rises went ahead in the New Year, pointing out that travellers in some of the worst-affected areas this week faced the biggest increases.

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