Ice expected to bring more commuter chaos today

ADVERSE weather conditions look set to cause major problems on the region's transport network this morning.

Anthony Bond

ADVERSE weather conditions look set to cause major problems on the region's transport network this morning.

Commuters to the capital have been affected by train cancellations while forecasters have warned that icy conditions will result in treacherous driving conditions for motorists.

Yesterdayheavy snow swept across much of East Anglia with some parts of Suffolk covered in about 10cm.

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More than 130 schools were closed in the county with about 400 shut in Essex. Nationwide, it was the worst snowfall to hit the country in 18 years, with London's transport network particularly affected.

As the temperature increased in the region yesterdayafternoon the snow turned to rain and sleet which was expected to continue into the night.

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But forecasters predicted an icy start to this morning with dangerous conditions on the county's roads.

At about 5.05am today a Ford Transit van ended up on its roof as it was travelling along the A1071 at Polstead. The driver walked away uninjured and vehicle was recovered.

Suffolk Police also said that icy weather could have been the cause of a car veering off the eastbound carriageway of the A14 at Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds today. The car left the road at 7.20am and was quickly recovered. No one was injured.

Forecaster Ken Blowers said last night: “There will be widespread ice on Tuesday morning after skies clear. There is going to be an early frost which will make the roads really bad because there is so much water and slush about.

“There will be sunny spells on Tuesday, maybe with the odd wintry shower, but there is a risk of more snow later in the week.”

Train operator National Express East Anglia said the “exceptional weather conditions” have affected both infrastructure and rolling stock resulting in a number of changes to today'stimetable.

Both the 6.25am and 6.55am services from Norwich to London Liverpool Street were cancelled along with the 5.50pm and 6.20pm from London Liverpool Street to Norwich.

Due to this morning'sicy conditions Suffolk police urged motorists to take care on the county's roads.

Chief Inspector Mike Bacon, from the Constabulary's Roads Policing Unit, said: “It is inevitable that the snowy weather will make driving more hazardous, but there are a few simple precautions that any driver can take.

“Only undertake necessary journeys and keep an eye on the weather forecast. If you have to go out, take a fully charged mobile phone and emergency clothing and warm drinks. Ensure that you have plenty of fuel, and if you can, put a shovel and some matting in the boot. You may not need them, but together with a vacuum flask and a warm coat, they can make all the difference if you do get stuck.''

Suffolk County Council said all of its 39 gritting lorries are fully operational and would grit all priority and secondary routes last nightand this morning.

Ipswich Hospital said that, although it was busy yesterday, there had not been an increase in the number of people who have slipped, tripped or fallen.

Hospital spokesperson Jan Rowsell said there had not been any cancelled appointments but they were looking to see if it was sensible to rearrange some outpatient appointments. “We are looking at whether it is safe for some appointments to go ahead and see if it is better to rearrange but we are not cancelling anything.”

West Suffolk Hospital reported no problems with planned operations or outpatient clinics, although some staff were unable to get into work because of the bad weather.

Gwen Nuttall, executive chief operating officer at the hospital, said: “We are carrying out regular reviews every two hours and have contingency plans in place, including calling in staff who live locally and cancelling routine training, so that we can cope if the situation gets worse.”

Children getting an unexpected day off from school were not the only ones to enjoy the heavy snow.

Some of the region's popular animal attractions got their first real glimpse of the white stuff with the closure of Linton Zoo, near Haverhill, not stopping the rare Amur tigers enjoying a rollick around in the snow.

For Katinka , it was the female tiger's first experience of playing in heavy snow since she was born at the zoo three years ago.

While the enjoyment was not confined to south Cambridgeshire as an alpaca farm in Long Melford, near Sudbury, also saw the animals take advantage of some rare heavy snow.

The wintry conditions are set to continue for the rest of the week with more snow predicted on Friday and early on Saturday morning.

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