UK

Freezing Weather in France and Belgium Causes Channel Tunnel Gridlock

13/03/2013 06:55 GMT | Updated 12/05/2013 10:12 BST

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 yesterday, 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 last 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 yesterday, is running today but with delays of between 40 and 60 minutes, according to National Rail Enquiries. A number of services are also cancelled.

Thousands of travellers endured a miserable day yesterday as the bitterly cold weather cause havoc for road, rail, sea and air journeys.

Kent and Sussex were worst hit as roads were blocked by snow and huge queues built up.

Jersey Airport was closed all day and UK passengers were delayed by bad weather at European airports.

Five hundred passengers on an Irish Ferries sailing, including around 300 French students, were stranded in rough seas off the coast of France.

They were finally able to dock at the fifth attempt at Cherbourg after spending almost 20 hours at sea, arriving at their destination almost 24 hours late.

Kent Police dealt with hundreds of calls from motorists reporting collisions, broken-down vehicles and abandoned cars as drivers were unable to continue their journeys, prompting warnings to travel only if necessary.