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Europe transport disrupted as snow turns to ice
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) March 13, 2013


Icy roads disrupted transport as northwestern Europe remained in the grip of unseasonable weather on Wednesday but many services were resuming after a severe late-winter snowstorm.

The snowstorm on Monday and Tuesday, only a few days before the official start of spring on March 20, caused widespread travel chaos with the cancellation of hundreds of flights and the suspension of train services including cross-Channel Eurostar trains.

The Eurostar link between London and Paris, the Thalys line between Paris and Brussels and other high-speed connections in northern France resumed running early on Wednesday, though there were warnings of delays.

A handful of the trains were pulled out of traffic during the day, while others ran on reduced speed.

After being forced to close briefly, Frankfurt Airport, Europe's third-busiest, said it expected services to progressively return to normal after 812 flights were cancelled on Tuesday.

Airports in Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel were also shut for part of the day.

France was the worst affected by the snowstorm but Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands also reported major disruptions.

Services were returning to normal in France, with the Paris Metro and suburban train services running, albeit with delays, though buses were cancelled because of icy road conditions.

During the day, the sun was shining in Paris, where buildings were covered in a picturesque blanket of snow and a lone cross-country skier was seen on the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower. The temperature was at -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), well below seasonal averages.

The icy conditions were causing road closures and slowdowns, in particular in the north of France, but highways were gradually opening as snowdrifts were cleared and vehicles stranded during the snowstorm were recovered.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned that disruptions could continue for another 48 hours.

"I think that things should be better by Friday, at least on the weather front," he said. "The situation is under control, the organisation is at the necessary level."

The snowstorm left thousands without power in France, and on Wednesday evening around 13,000 homes were still without electricity in the southwestern part of the country. The power cuts were mainly caused by trees and branches, weighed down by the heavy snow, falling onto electricity lines.

Temperatures hovered close to freezing in Britain, with snow expected in parts of Scotland and eastern England. Motorways in the south of the country were blocked as lorries were backed up following delays to freight and passenger services through the Channel Tunnel.

Belgium was also seeing a return to normal with train and public transport services improving, though icy roads were causing some disruptions.

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WHITE OUT
Late-winter snowstorm batters northwestern Europe
Paris (AFP) March 13, 2013
A severe late-winter snowstorm battered northwestern Europe on Tuesday, causing widespread travel chaos with the cancellation of hundreds of flights at main airports and the suspension of train services including cross-Channel Eurostar trains. Blizzard-like conditions - coming only eight days before the official start of spring - also knocked out power to thousands of people in France and ... read more


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