Travel problems ease in time for festive getaway

TRAFFIC problems on road, rail and air eased yesterday but the Christmas getaway for some faltered to a halt as adverse weather conditions continued.

Following delays on major routes, the AA – which was yesterday called out to twice as many breakdowns as normal – said ice would be a continuing hazard

Christmas Eve traffic should be relatively light, except in shopping centres – especially after about 3 pm as most people wanted to travel in daylight. To ease problems, the Highways Agency suspended most roadworks over the holiday although restrictions remain in place on the M1 through Bedfordshire.

Heathrow operator BAA has announced an independent inquiry into its handling of chaos while the Civil Aviation Authority said it had warned some unnamed airlines their treatment of passengers had been unacceptable. BA laid on extra flights and larger planes to ease the backlog.

Rail services continued to suffer and the East Coast firm, which axed 13 services between London and Leeds yesterday, cancelled 12 trains today.

Northumbria Police confirmed yesterday a body found in Newcastle on Wednesday was 21-year-old Duncan Gibbon of Swainby, Northallerton, who went missing in freezing conditions while out with friends last Saturday night.

Bookies stopped taking bets on snow on Christmas Day but forecasters, who said the chances of snow tomorrow were slim, warned of possible prolonged snow on Boxing Day evening.