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Gravesend left in chaos as snow blankets North Kent

PUBLISHED: 09:30 02 December 2010

Gravesend Train Station under a blanket of snow

Gravesend Train Station under a blanket of snow

Archant

Commuters were faced with travel chaos as up to ten inches of snow brought the roads to a standstill on Tuesday and led to widespread train delays and cancellations.

Rail operators Southeastern struggled to deal with the heavy snowfall and passengers at Gravesend fumed they were left in the dark about the scale of problems.

A notice board simply read passengers should “expect short notice cancellations,” only a week after rail fare rises of more than 10 per cent were announced by the company.

Yesterday the hazardness conditions continued with about 60 lorries parked overnight on the side of the A2 between Sidcup and Gravesend.

Hundreds of motorists were also stuck overnight behind jack-knifed lorries on the A2 London-bound near the Tollgate Hotel, Gravesend.

Artist Glenn Fitzpatrick, hugging a cup of coffee after an hour’s wait at Gravesend train station on Tuesday, said: “Everything’s delayed. I don’t seem to be getting anywhere.”

The 39-year-old Gulf War veteran added: “I’m off to St Pancras – I’ve got a hospital appointment – and so I’ve really got to persevere with this one.

“People seem to be filtering off, but it’s the lack of information coming through that’s the most frustrating.

“People are turning away and going home and they’re constantly on the ‘phone asking what’s happening at the next station. It’s the lack of information that’s causing the disruption with the disruption.”

Joanne Howard, of Linton Road, Gravesend, commutes to Charing Cross every day and buys a monthly Early Bird ticket for £182.40, which is set to rise to £205.38.

She said: “I don’t think it should go up above inflation - the service isn’t good enough to justify it.”

Daniel Martin of Parrock Street, Gravesend, was worried things would only get worse throughout the day.

He said: “I was here at 8.30 this morning and it’s now 9.55am. The signs were saying that there were delays and then the notice boards just went off and came up with that passenger information.

“Every train that is pulling in is jammed packed and there have only been two in the last hour it now.

“I’m going home if it doesn’t get any better – a few people have managed to get on trains but I’ve heard many of them say they’re going home.

“The real worry if you get there is if you are going to be able to get back.”

Matters were further hampered due to a fatality at Slade Green Station, closing that section of the line for the morning.

A spokesman for the company explained icy rails had caused the problems. continued on page 2

She said: “In this part of the UK the ‘third’ conductor rail provides electricity to the trains.

“Ice and snow acts as an insulating layer making it difficult for trains to draw power to move.

“Despite our, and Network Rail’s best efforts, to stop the ice forming - freezing temperatures and snow in the early hours of the morning made this impossible.

“A fatality in the Greenwich area during the morning rush hour also caused disruption on several metro routes.”

On average season tickets from Gravesend to London will rise by 12.6 per cent in 2011.

Southeastern’s managing director Charles Horton said: “Nobody likes to see prices rise but it is the stated policy of the government to move more of the cost of travelling by train towards passengers and away from the general taxpayer.”

Drivers around the town were left equally frustrated as the major routes in and out of Gravesend quickly became gridlocked.

A jack-knifed lorry at the Ebbsfleet A2 slip road London-bound at 10.30am caused huge backlogs, while delays of three hours or more were reported at the Darenth interchange and the A2 coastbound at Bean,

London bound three lanes on the A2 were closed between Gravesend and the M25 closed. and the link road at Bean from the A2 to the B255 was closed at 11am by the Highways Agency as lorries struggled to handle the steep slope in the icy conditions.

Several schools and both Cygnets and Cascades leisure centres were closed yesterday and Gravesham Borough Council postponed rubbish collections until Monday so staff can de diverted to clearing snow and gritting.

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