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7 December 2010

Travelling public have helped clear-up by avoiding non-urgent travel

The Scottish Government and police forces have renewed their advice this afternoon (7 December) for drivers to make only essential journeys, despite progress made today in opening some parts of the roads network.

The M8 Westbound J1-5 is expected to remain closed overnight, while drivers have also been urged particularly to avoid the A80 Stepps to Haggs and M74 Hamilton Services.

The guidance came as 327 staff using 63 vehicles and spreading over 2,400 tonnes of salt had worked round the clock to clear the motorway and trunk road network across Scotland. There have been more than a dozen instances of jack-knifed lorries on the central motorway network overnight. Pupils who had been forced to spend the night in their schools in Lanarkshire and Glasgow have all returned home earlier today. The Education Secretary has passed on his thanks to the local authority and school staff who helped care for the pupils overnight.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“This has been a very difficult period for the motorists caught in congestion overnight after yesterday’s ‘perfect storm’ of heavy snowfall at the peak of rush-hour in our most populated region brought key routes to a halt.

“With many people heeding the advice only to travel certain routes this morning where absolutely necessary, that has provided a window of opportunity for agencies to accelerate their work to clear roadways of snow, ice and stricken vehicles, and this has enabled the situation to be improved throughout the day. However, many routes remain treacherous and traffic movement slow.

“As the snow has been cleared, extremely low temperatures continue to pose further challenges, for example on the M8 Westbound which remains closed tonight with thick sheet ice. Heavy plant has been brought in where transport operators reported that two snow plough blades have broken.

“The Scottish Government’s Resilience Room was again active throughout the night, co-ordinating work with Transport Scotland, police and other agencies to tackle the consequences of the extraordinary weather conditions. Police have been working extremely hard night and day, assisting those stranded or who had abandoned their cars - with more than 2,400 officers deployed in the Strathclyde force alone.

“The First Minister chaired a ministerial meeting of SGoRR at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh, this morning and again this afternoon, enabling the various agencies to ensure that resources are most effectively and promptly directed to get people moving.

"Motorists have been incredibly patient during what are the most extreme conditions Scotland has seen in decades and I would urge people to continue to follow local police advice in terms of making only essential journeys while the recovery operation moves towards completion.”

Meanwhile, rail services and bus services continue to be affected by weather conditions and ScotRail and Network Rail are working towards restoring the reduced timetables that the industry has adopted since the onset of the severe winter weather. Travellers are strongly advised to check the ScotRail website and Traveline before they travel.

Stewart Stevenson
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