Fresh snowfall disrupts rail, air transport across Europe

In Britain, the Heathrow Airport reopened its second runway last night but only two thirds of flights were expected to be operated today.

Eurostar services were also subject to long delays due to speed restrictions on the French high speed network and nine trains have been cancelled.

With heavy snow falling in many parts of the country again this morning, the Met Office issued severe weather warnings for the midlands, north Wales and south west England.

Forecasters warned that a thaw is unlikely any time soon with temperatures struggling to rise above freezing for the rest of the week. Several other airports across Britain are still warning of disruption, including Edinburgh, East Midlands and Gatwick.

A BAA spokesman said, "100 per cent of the airport was available" but it was not running at full capacity just yet.

Heathrow told passengers to travel to the airport only if their departure was confirmed.

In Berlin, thousands of air travellers remained stranded and train services were severely disrupted as fresh snowfall and sub-zero temperatures worsened Europe's Christmas travel chaos.

For the fifth consecutive night, several hundred stranded passengers slept on camping beds at Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt as the authorities struggled to cope with the tension building up among those still unable to catch a flight.

The airport operator Fraport has been trying to improve the services for stranded passengers and offered them free drinks and snacks after a brawl at Lufthansa's check-in counter last Saturday.

Around 570 flights out of 1,300 flights were cancelled yesterday and the airport was shut down for more than three hours after unexpectedly heavy snowfall blocked the runways and frustrated efforts to keep aircraft free of ice.

Over 10,000 air travellers were affected by the diversion of flights, according to Munich airport officials.

Snow chaos and flight disruption in Frankfurt also hit a number of domestic flights from Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.

The European air traffic control authority Eurocontrol estimated snow and freezing conditions yesterday forced the cancellation of over 1,000 flights across Europe.

Heavy snow again disrupted the train services of the German railways, which reported several cancellations and long delays.

In Paris, the two main airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly were allowed to remain open around the clock to clear the backlog of delayed flights. Unusually heavy snow has disrupted road network in southern Sweden.

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