Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LONDON IN CHAOS: WHO IS TO BLAME?; Only Two Inches of Snow and Tube Grinds to a Halt

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LONDON IN CHAOS: WHO IS TO BLAME?; Only Two Inches of Snow and Tube Grinds to a Halt

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGH DOUGHERTY;HARRIET ARKELL;PATRICK MCGOWAN;DICK MURRAY;HUMFREY HUNTER;ROB MCNEIL;MARK WILKINSON;CHRIS MILLAR;JESSICA HODGSON;LAURA BURKIN;COLIN ADAMSON;ELAINE GALLOWAY;PETER GRUNER

JUST two inches of snow left London in its worst gridlock ever - and the question on everybody's lips today is: "Why?"

Hundreds of thousands of people were caught up in the chaos as roads came to a halt, hundreds of trains were cancelled and dozens of Tube stations were shut, forcing commuters to walk along frozen tracks.

There were angry scenes as passengers were thrown off packed buses.

Hundreds of people were forced to camp out at airports when their flights were cancelled and some were even stuck overnight in Brent Cross shopping centre.

More chaos is expected tonight with sleet and snow forecast - the weather is expected to clear tomorrow, although there will still be wintry showers.

About 200 schools in Essex - one in three - were closed today.

Despite days of warning that the South-East would be hit by snow and freezing conditions, train and Tube bosses claimed they could not have anticipated the extent of the snowfall and councils failed to act in time to grit roads to prevent traffic coming to a halt. The AA said last night's jams in London were the worst it had ever seen.

The chaos was so bad that thousands of people booked into hotels while others spent hours struggling home - only to be faced with the same misery this morning as they returned to work.

The snow started to settle yesterday afternoon - and by the rush-hour the debacle began to unfold.

On the Tubes, services were suspended on a string of lines. Stations had to be closed because of "dangerous overcrowding", buses and taxis became stranded in the gridlock and some drivers abandoned their cars and walked home. Many of those motorists will have returned to find parking tickets on their vehicles this morning.

A partial apology from London Underground was the only official acknowledgement that the city's transport chiefs had failed to keep the rails and roads in operation. An LU spokesman blamed the snow for washing de-icing fluid off rails and said: "We did not anticipate the snow would fall so dramatically. …

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