Travel services resume in chilly UK

2010-12-23 19:51

London - Weather-wracked Christmas travel eased in Britain on Thursday after days of snow-related delays, with most services running normally at Heathrow Airport and on cross-Channel Eurostar trains.

Across the Irish Sea, heavy snow shut Dublin Airport for several hours.

The Irish airport suspended flights in the morning because heavy snow made the runway unsafe, but reopened in the afternoon.

Ireland has been hit by unusually heavy snow and frigid temperatures in recent days, causing widespread delays.

Both Heathrow runways open

Cleanup efforts in London were aided by a slight rise in temperature that melted much of the ice.

Heathrow Airport said both runways were open and about 90% of flights were operating. Eurostar also reported "near normal" service on its trains linking England to France and Belgium.

The long lines of the past few days disappeared from the Eurostar hub at St Pancras Station in London, where staff handed out coffee and croissants to relieved travellers.

But motoring groups warned that millions of drivers are expected to make Christmas holiday journeys over the next two days, snarling roads across Britain.

Police in England found the body of a 21-year-old student who disappeared in freezing conditions after a night out on Saturday with friends. Duncan Gibbon's body was found on an embankment in the northern city of Newcastle.

While Western Europe thawed slightly, bitter cold was causing problems in Scandinavia.

Train stuck in snow

A night storm dumped up to 15cm of snows across Denmark, hampering road, rail, and air traffic.

Worst hit was the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm, where police urged people to stay indoors.

In the south, the Danish army mobilised armoured personnel carriers to help ambulances and other emergency vehicles get through the snow.

In Sweden, trains came to a halt in southern regions as icy winter winds swept snow over the country.

Johan Ingero, a spokesperson for train operator SJ, said thousands of passengers were affected by the delays and standstills on the busiest day of the year.

Dozens of people were evacuated from a commuter train in southern Sweden after it got stuck in a pile of snow.