Big freeze causes Chunnel gridlock

Big freeze causes Chunnel gridlock

Lorries queue for the Channel Tunnel on the M20 near Folkestone in Kent

Water thrown up from a puddle at the side of a road in Brentwood, Essex, forms icicles on a part of a roadside hedge

First published in National News © by

Unseasonable freezing weather and snowy conditions have continued to cause disruption, with a huge backlog of freight traffic waiting to use the Channel Tunnel.

Bad weather in France and Belgium forced the tunnel's closure on Tuesday, causing hundreds of lorry and heavy goods vehicle drivers to sit out the wintry weather on the M20 in Kent.

The motorway was turned into a giant car park on Tuesday night as endless vehicles waited for the tunnel to be opened.

The tunnel was reopened overnight and is now operating normally with no delays, but the Highways Agency said freight traffic waiting for ferries from the Port of Dover would face another long wait today.

The M20 eastbound is closed between junctions 8 and 9 while Kent Police manages traffic approaching the tunnel and port and the backlog is expected to continue throughout the morning, the Highways Agency said.

The Eurostar, which was cancelled for most of Tuesday, is running today but with delays of between 40 and 60 minutes, according to National Rail Enquiries. A number of services are also cancelled.

Officials from the Port of Dover advised passengers to leave extra time for journeys because of a backlog of traffic entering the port.

The cold weather is set to continue throughout the day, with temperatures between 2C (35.5F) and 6C (43F) but feeling colder.

Snow showers are forecast for parts of Scotland and eastern parts of England, especially along the North Sea coast, Gemma Plumb, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said.

But that snow is unlikely to settle and the snowfall that caused chaos across the South East and the Channel Islands on Tuesday has cleared, Ms Plumb said. "It won't be as cold as yesterday but is still colder than average for this time of year," she said. "Tonight there will be lows of minus 5C (23F) to minus 7C (19.5F) across the whole country, so it is still really cold."

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