February freeze hits rail, air and ferry travel

Up to 25cm of snow is forecast in parts of England and Wales (PA)
Up to 25cm of snow is forecast in parts of England and Wales (PA)

“The return of the Beast from the East” – that’s one warning about latest bout of extreme winter weather to hit the UK, which says the predicted snow, ice and rain could be as bad as the February 2018 storm.

The Met Office has issued yellow and amber weather warnings for snow and ice today, covering most of the UK from the Midlands northwards. A separate yellow weather warning for wind and rain rain is in force for all of southern England and southeast Wales from the M4 corridor southwards.

James Madden of Exacta Weather warns that the Midlands will be first to experience heavy snow, followed by northern England.

Travellers by rail, air and ferry are being warned about possible disruption due to the latest bout of severe weather, while the AA is warning drivers to exercise “extreme caution”.

These are the key areas of disruption.


Network Rail warns: “Snow, ice and heavy rain are forecast across large parts of Britain on Thursday and Friday.”

The main line between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads is blocked “due to heavy rain flooding the railway between Swindon and Chippenham”. Great Western Railway says services “may be cancelled, delayed or diverted”.

In West Yorkshire, a landslip between Shipley and Ilkley has blocked all lines, with disruption expected throughout Thursday and Friday.

Later on Thursday, LNER will curtail the evening trains from London that would normally run to Harrogate, Skipton and Bradford. They will all end their journeys at Leeds, with alternative transport currently being sourced.

The Transport for Wales lines linking Cardiff with Pencoed and Abergavenny with Hereford are flooded, with services delayed.

In Hampshire, a tree blocked the main line connecting Southampton with Portsmouth and Brighton. The obstruction has now been cleared.

Southern, which runs trains along the south coast, warns: “High winds and heavy rain are expected across some coastal routes.”

Wind speeds are forecast to reach 55mph.

Greater Anglia is experiencing serious problems between Norwich and Ely, which is also affecting East Midlands Railway.

Train operators say weather disruption could continue until late evening on Friday 9 February.


Europe’s biggest budget airline, Ryanair, is warning of “potential disruptions to/from the UK due to snow and ice”.

The carrier says: “We regret any inconvenience caused to passengers by these weather conditions, which are outside of our control and affect all airlines operating to/from the UK.”

At the UK’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, the worst disruption so far is being caused by the after-effects of a strike by Lufthansa ground staff. Morning departures to Frankfurt on the German airline are either cancelled or severely delayed.

Strong winds could lead to issues at Heathrow and London Gatwick, which are respectively the busiest two-runway and single-runway airports in the world. If the “flow rate” of arrivals is reduced because of the weather, delays and cancellations could result.


The AA is warning of snow and ice impacting parts of West Midlands, northern England, Northern Ireland and some areas of Scotland during today and tomorrow.

The organisation says: “Roads are likely to be hazardous, so extreme caution is advised. “The cold snap is likely to affect vehicle breakdown levels, with faults such as flat batteries and wiper faults.”


In Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne warns of “disruption or cancellation at short notice due to adverse weather” on several key routes, including Ullapool to Stornoway, Gourock to Dunoon and Largs to Cumbrae.

The ferry between Adrossan and the isle of Arran will be sailing from Troon instead.