Icy weather prolongs travel chaos

 

Freezing temperatures are forecast to continue to affect many parts of the country up to Christmas Day but snow showers should become less frequent, particularly in the Dublin area.

Met Éireann said the weather would be considerably drier over the coming days which forecaster Gerard Fleming said should make it far easier for local and airport authorities to keep roads and runways open once they are treated.

Airlines were tonight working to clear the backlog of weather-weary passengers from Dublin airport as the Christmas deadline edged closer.

With a respite in the snow showers over the capital, the airport opened at 7.15am today but festive travellers still faced disruption from other snow-blighted airports across Europe.

With thousands of passengers caught up in the backlog Aer Lingus is to increase its capacity to Madrid,Frankfurt and London Heathrow tomorrow and has hired an extra aircraft to operate the New York route.

Ryanair is laying on extra flights to a range of destinations, including Poland, Brussels, Scotland, Paris andLondon Stansted.

Dublin Airport said staff worked through the night to clear the airfield of snow to allow operations resume as more than six inches of snow fell on the airport yesterday, with ground staff having to clear 90,000 tonnes from the runway, taxiways, and aircraft parking stands.

Public transport services were all operating tonight but with curtailments, diversions and delays on many routes and some cancellations on others.

Bus Éireann said its services from Dublin to Rosslare and Monaghan had been restored this afternoon following earlier cancellations but that night-time services from Dublin to Drogheda, Meath and Kildare would not be running.

Met Éireann said some light snow would drift over the east coast tonight that and this could bring flurries but nothing like the heavy snowfall that occurred on previous days.

It warned that freezing fog would pose problems for motorists, in the midlands region especially, and that it would remain bitterly cold until Christmas Day.

Gardaí have appealed to people travelling home for Christmas to use public transport where possible and it asked motorists to be extremely careful as difficult conditions would persist even though less snow was falling.

The National Roads Authority said a shipment of salt had arrived at Dublin Port earlier than expected and that the amount being used to treat motorways and primary roads daily would be increased by 50 per cent to 3,000 tonnes.

Iarnród Éireann said full services were continuing to operate throughout the network across Intercity, DART and Commuter routes. It warned there may be some delays where snow is being cleared from points.

The Luas green and red lines are operating as normal. Part of the red line was closed earlier today following a collision between a tram and a car at Blackhall Place.

A spokesman for Dublin Port said it expected to remain open and that all berths were operational. Irish Ferries and Stena Line have reported a surge in bookings as air passengers attempt to get home by sea.

The Irish Road Haulage Association today criticised the National Roads Authority (NRA) over its failure to adequately grit national primary roads during the bad weather.

The organisation said road conditions remain dangerous putting safety at risk. Hauliers said they were particularly annoyed that slip roads on the M50 and other motorways had been left untreated.

AA Roadwatch this evening reported extremely poor conditions in Bray, Co Wicklow and said motorists should avoid the Sally Gap, Wicklow Gap and Kilgarron Hill in Enniskerry.

It said there were hazardous conditions along the M7 and that traffic was down to one lane between the Portlaoise and Naas North junctions.