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Snow, Ice Still Disrupting Eurostar as Airports Open (Update2)
2010-12-03 17:31:52.688 GMT
(Updates with Eurostar weekend service starting in second
paragraph, Italy floods in final.)
By Meera Bhatia and Jack Jordan
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Snow and freezing temperatures are
still affecting Channel Tunnel rail passenger services, while
airport operators say travelers are likely to suffer further
disruption as runways open again across Europe.
Eurostar Group Ltd. will cancel 10 trains through the
Channel Tunnel tomorrow, and seven on Dec. 5, it said on its
website. London's Gatwick Airport, the U.K.'s second-busiest,
opened this morning after being closed since Nov. 30. Passengers
should expect some cancellations, according to its website.
The unseasonably cold weather caused the biggest disruption
to European air travel since the eruption of Iceland's
Eyjafjallajökull volcano in April grounded 100,000 flights in
six days. Eurostar is modifying timetables to avoid a repeat of
last winter's freeze, in which five trains carrying 2,000 people
became stuck in the Channel Tunnel after snow disabled their
electrics, with 90,000 more stranded at stations.
"We have been advising that travel will be disrupted over
the weekend," Leigh Calder, a spokesman for Eurostar, said by
telephone. "The snow in Kent is quite extraordinary. If travel
is not essential we are advising customers not to do so. Quite a
lot of people are staying away."
Eurostar scrapped 17 services, six fewer than yesterday,
and said trains still running today may suffer delays of 1 1/2
hours. For tomorrow, three services will be canceled in each
direction between London and Paris and two each way between the
U.K. capital and Brussels, according to its website. On Dec. 5,
two services each way between London and Brussels will be cut,
together with one from the U.K. capital to Paris, and two in the
Eurostar has slashed services after cutting speed limits
from 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph) to as little as 160 kmph.
While ticket holders can get a refund or rebook, no new tickets
are available until at least Dec. 6.
At Gatwick, about 1,200 flights were canceled over 48
hours. The airport typically attracts about 70,000 passengers a
day at this time of year, Chief Executive Officer Stewart
Wingate said yesterday.
"We had tickets to fly out of Gatwick on Wednesday, but
were told it was canceled," said U.K. resident Jamie Wigley,
33, who was due to get married today in Barbados. "Although the
airport is open, the flights that are going are fully booked,
and our airline cannot tell us when the next available one is."
BAA Ltd. said London's Heathrow Airport was operating
normally, but would have delays and cancellations because of
disruption elsewhere. The company advised passengers using
Edinburgh Airport to contact their airlines before traveling.
Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield is expected to be closed
until Dec. 5, according to its website. Airports in Geneva,
London City, Dublin and Belfast resumed operations yesterday.
The earliest widespread snowfall in the U.K. since 1993 has
disrupted road and rail traffic, with very low temperatures and
widespread ice likely to last into next week, according to the
Met Office. A wintry mix of rain and sleet is expected to cross
the country from the west, with the chance of further snow
during today and tomorrow.
The government has "no major concerns" over supplies of
gasoline, diesel fuel and food, Prime Minister David Cameron's
spokeswoman, Vickie Sheriff, told reporters in London today.
Any impact of the severe weather conditions on the U.K.
economy will be largely made up by early summer, the Centre for
Economics and Business Research Ltd. said today in an e-mailed
statement. Still, up to 1,000 additional businesses may run out
of cash this winter as the recession has put more companies
"close to the verge of bankruptcy," it said.
CEBR estimates the weather disruption could cost the
economy about 1 billion pounds ($1.57 billion) a day, while the
German economy, where construction is climate sensitive, could
be more severely affected.
Go-Ahead Group Plc's Southern Railway Ltd., which operates
commuter services from southeast England into London, will run a
reduced service on a limited number of routes today until about
9 p.m. local time with snow and ice covering much of the
company's network, Southern said on its website today.
Passengers can expect shorter trains on some routes.
Stagecoach Group Plc's South West Trains, Britain's largest
commuter operator, said services are running out of London
Waterloo to most destinations, subject to delays. Canceled
services include Salisbury to Bristol and to Hampton Court.
German state railway Deutsche Bahn AG's operations ran
relatively well this morning, as the situation "eased
considerably," spokeswoman Kathrin Fellenberg said. The
operator expects further improvement today though trains are
still facing delays, especially in northern and eastern Germany.
Traffic at Frankfurt airport is running smoothly, with "no
disruptions to aviation" there, Thomas Uber, a spokesman for
operator Fraport AG, said. Of the 44 flight cancellations so far
today, those caused by the weather were "not due to problems at
Frankfurt, but at other" airports, Uber said.
France's high-speed train network was running a full
timetable today, although there are still minor delays due to
temporary speed limits on areas of the network still under heavy
snow, Julie Vion-Broussailles, a spokeswoman for the SNCF
national railway, said by phone.
Lyon airport, which had closed to incoming flights due to
low visibility earlier in the week, was open today. Passengers
were urged to check their flights before setting out, operator
Aeroports de Lyon said in a message on its website. Paris
Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports were operating normally.
Freezing temperatures and blowing snow has claimed 28 lives
across central Europe this week, according to Agence France-
Presse. Two pensioners were found dead in separate incidents in
Cumbria this week, the Press Association reported.
In Italy, heavy rainfall is causing flooding. Venice's St.
Mark's Square was covered in water after the tide reached a high
of 136 cm early this morning, the highest since Christmas Day of
last year, according to the city's official website. Heavy
rainfall in Rome last night has raised the level of the Tiber
river, putting the city's civil protection services on alert.
For Related News and Information:
Top stories: TOP <GO>
Eurostar news: 2298Z LN <Equity> CN <GO>
Today's top transport news: TRNT <GO>
--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss in Vienna, Cornelius Rahn
and Mike Gavin in Frankfurt, Christian Wienberg in Copenhagen,
Stuart Biggs in Tokyo, Steven Rothwell, David Altaner and Thomas
Penny in London, Toby Alder in Stockholm, Laurence Frost in
Paris and Alessandra Migliaccio in Rome. Editors: Peter Branton,
To contact the reporter on this story:
Meera Bhatia in Oslo at +47-22-99-6195 or
Jack Jordan in London at +44-20-3216-4421 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Colin Keatinge at +44-20-7673-2494 or