Train firms slammed amid cold snap

Train firms slammed amid cold snap

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A woman skiing in the snow on Stanley Common, Derbyshire, as snowfall continues

Under-fire Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has warned train companies to keep stranded passengers better informed but said transport problems were inevitable as a blanket of snow and ice covers Britain.

Mr Hammond, who was told to “get a grip” after cancellations left thousands of people high and dry, said he had heard “far too many stories” about people being unable to obtain information about train services.

The minister’s comments came as Britain endured another night of wintry weather with temperatures falling to -20C, but the easing of snow showers meant Gatwick Airport reopened on Friday morning.

However, major delays and cancellations were expected to still cause commuter chaos.

A statement on the airport’s website said: “Our advice to passengers remains – do not travel to the airport without first checking with your airline to make sure that your flight is departing today. Passengers should expect delays and cancellations and it is likely to take a few days before flight schedules return to normal.”

Mr Hammond has taken the step of writing to all train operators reminding them to ensure all passengers are kept fully informed.

He said: “With the amount of snowfall we’ve seen the last few days, some disruption to train services is to be expected. But what is completely unacceptable is for rail passengers to be kept in the dark about what is happening with their services.

“My message to the train operators is clear: passengers must be kept informed. We will be monitoring their performance on this very carefully while this situation continues.”

Severe weather warning for widespread icy roads were issued by the Met Office on Friday morning for south-west England and the Highlands and Eilean Sar, with a severe frost expected across the whole of the UK.

Gavin Robbins, a forecaster for the Met Office, said most of the UK would get off to a bright start with snow showers only affecting Northern Ireland and the North West of Britain.

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