Passengers marooned on trains across UK as ‘Beast from the East’ creates Arctic challenge

EVERAL days of snow, sub-zero temperatures and high winds at the start of March from a weather system nicknamed ‘Beast from the East’ combined with Storm Emma to create some of the most horrendous winter weather the UK has seen for years.

The conditions wreaked havoc on large parts of the railway network between February 28 and March 3.

Red and amber warnings were issued on February 27 and 28 as the winter weather from Siberia swept in, meeting Storm Emma, pushing north from Portugal, to create freak weather.

At first glance this doesn’t look like Dawlish, where GWR Class 150 No. 150248 departs with the 07.02 Par-Exeter St David’s on March 19, passing No. 143621 on the 09.00 Exeter St David’s-Paignton. PHILIP D HAWKINS

Rail passengers on Greater Anglia (GA) were critical of the operator, which cancelled more than 1,000 services ahead of the expected snowfall, only to find the storm passed further south than predicted.

Network Rail and GA said it made a judgement based on the information available, with its aim to make sure passengers were not trapped on trains in freezing conditions and no real prospect of rescuing them quickly.

In the North, both the East and West Coast Main Lines became blocked in places by deep snow drifts, curtailing all scheduled services between England and Scotland. In Lanarkshire, nearly 50cm of snow fell, and in central Scotland services between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh were halted because of snow and iced overhead electrification.

ScotRail ran services down early on February 28, with the last Glasgow to Ayr train at 17.05, final service to Dundee at 16.00, and all services withdrawn via Glasgow Low Level. The only services running in Scotland at one stage were Inverness to Aberdeen, Aberdeen to Dundee and Inverness to Perth.

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