Travel update: More rail chaos as region shivers after weekend respite

Yorkshire will carry on shivering this week as sub-zero temperatures remain, with more travel problems expected and the death toll from the big freeze continuing to rise.

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Some areas enjoyed a brief respite from the freezing cold over the weekend, but a temperature of almost -20C was recorded in North Yorkshire in the early hours of Monday.

An elderly man was found dead in the Cleethorpes snow and 200 employees were told to stay home from a Hull factory after heavy snow caused part of the roof to collapse.

Commuters faced chilly journeys to work yesterday, blighted by snow and patches of freezing fog – in contrast to some of the sunshine and milder weather seen at the weekend.

Air, train and road travel are still suffering – with delays and cancellations on a number of railway lines such as East Coast, and major disruption at most airports.

This morning there are again major delays on the lines between Leeds and Ilkley, Sheffield, Manchester Airport and Birmingham. "Overhead wire problems" were blamed for the cancellation of services from Ilkley on the third consecutive day of disruption to the line.

Hundreds of passengers were trapped on trains between stations and saw journey times more than doubled as carriages were diverted on to other lines. The disruption is expected to last all day.

One passenger said: "The worst thing is the lack of information. The rail website is reporting trains on time that are actually half an hour late.

"Last week they blamed frozen brakes. I don't understand why trains should be less resilient to the frost than my car is."

At the time of publication, Northern Rail had not resoponded to an invitation to comment.

Some parts of northern England were expecting up to 3cm of snow last night, as it moved south from Scotland, and the temperature fell to -2C.

But that is relatively warm, compared to Topcliffe, where a temperature of -18C was recorded at the start of the week.

A man, believed to be in his late 70s and from Doncaster, was found dead in snow by security guards at Thorpe Park caravan park in Humberston, near Cleethorpes in north-east Lincolnshire, on Saturday.

Reports suggest he may have lain undiscovered for two days and that he was allowed to stay on at the park after being unable to get a train home because of the weather. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

A spokesman for Thorpe Park, which is closed for the winter, said: "We immediately informed the police and an ambulance was called. We are assisting the police with all the information we can provide.

"Staff had known the gentleman for some time and were sad and upset by this dreadful occurrence."

A 55-year-old Lincoln man died in a crash involving a tanker in freezing conditions in north Lincolnshire at the weekend, on the A15 near Hibaldstow.

Peter Andrews, 64, also died while shovelling slow outside his home in Darlington on Sunday morning, Durham Police said yesterday.

Meanwhile, most of the 850 workers at Smith and Nephew's Hull factory have returned to work after being sent home for the weekend when the roof collapsed under the force of heavy snow.

But about 200 employees at the wound management factory have been told to stay at home until the building is made safe.

The AA received almost 3,000 calls per hour yesterday – two to three times the usual rate – and had attended more than 10,000 breakdowns by the late morning.

Drivers were experiencing a host of problems, such as frozen door locks and their cars failing to start.

The AA said its busiest areas included Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. "It's going to be a very busy evening and a very busy week as well," a spokesman added.

In Sheffield, the city council warned of "very difficult driving conditions" on its second-priority routes yesterday, and that some were passable "only with extreme care".

The RAC said calls were peaking late yesterday morning at around 3,500 an hour – the busiest since the cold spell began – and that frozen cooling systems and wipers stuck to the windscreen were the main causes of breakdowns.

Alan Wilcock, RAC Patrol Ambassador of the Year, said: "If you haven't turned your engine on for several days it is worth taking a few minutes to do so and let it run for over five minutes, but do not leave the car unattended. This will help prevent non-starts."

In Lincolnshire, an annual blessing of the county council's gritting depots, due to take place today, was postponed so crews can carry out back-to-back salting runs.

The Right Rev Dr John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln, has carried out blessings at the Sturton-by-Stow depot every year since 2003, and the event has never previously been called off.

Lincolnshire County Council's principal maintenance engineer David Davies said: "The gritter blessings play an important role in highlighting the need for motorists to take extreme care and the brave work carried out by our gritting teams.

"However, with the crews expected to be extremely busy carrying out constant gritting runs tomorrow evening, the decision has been taken to postpone the scheduled blessings."

Frosty outlook for yorkshire

It will remain bitterly cold in Yorkshire for the rest of this week, with temperatures dropping from freezing today to -5C tonight, before climbing back up only to -2C tomorrow.

Another frost is expected tomorrow, with a few snow flurries on the coast and a brisk north-westerly wind, before temperatures drop to -6C overnight, with light snow showers expected.

A slow thaw will begin on Thursday, as less cold air comes in from the Atlantic and the temperature rises to highs of 4C.

There will be mist and cloud – but overnight into Friday, frost is expected to be patchy and most places should avoid it, with the temperature forecast at around 3C.

Temperatures are not expected to rise significantly at the weekend, but it will be less cold and there will be a lower risk of patchy frost for most areas.

There is a chance of colder air coming in by the start of next week, said Matt Dobson, of MeteoGroup – the Press Association's weather service.