Blizzards and heavy snowfall struck large parts of Germany after a brief respite and caused renewed chaos on the roads, railways and at the airports as the Christmas holiday travel edged towards its climax.
Hundreds of holiday travellers were stuck on the highways across northern and eastern Germany till late in the evening after freezing rains and icy roads resulted in a number of accidents and blocked several roads.
Traffic disruptions were “massive” in the states of Schleswig Holstein, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg Pomerenia and North Rhine Westphalia, according to the German Motorists Club (ADAC).
In a mass pileup involving 45 cars, four trucks and two transporters in the state of Saxony Anhalt, one person was killed and ten others were injured.
Another motorist was killed in a snow-related accident elsewhere. The highway linking Berlin with the south-western cities of Duisburg and Dortmund, the Berlin-Munich highways as well as the road between Hamburg and Bremen were among the worst-hit by the snow chaos.
At some places, motorists were caught up for several hours in traffic jams extending up to 30 kilometres. More than 450 traffic accidents were reported in North Rhine Westphalia alone.
Blizzards and snowfall also severely disrupted the German Railways’ train services in northern and eastern Germany. Several long-distance express had long delays or were cancelled altogether, the railways said.
It announced earlier that ten additional express trains will be deployed on some of the major north—south and east-west routes to cope with the Christmas holiday travel and an anticipated surge in the number of airlines passengers switching over to the train.
Some of the express trains of the railways have become overcrowded in the past few days after many air travellers stranded at Germany’s airports have taken the trains to reach their destinations.
The airports in Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover said they resumed normal operations after some disruptions caused by the blizzards and snowfall.
Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt, which was not affected by yesterday’s snow chaos, said it is returning to near-normal operation after massive disruptions of the past days, caused by heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures.
Only about 60 flights were cancelled yesterday, compared to around 600 cancellations on Tuesday.
An airport spokesman said yesterday’s cancellations were due to the flight disruptions in other airports in Europe. The Frankfurt airport has been using the snow-free days to clear a backlog over 3,500 air travellers stranded there since the flight chaos began last Friday.
At Germany’s second largest airport in Munich, all flights are operating on schedule, a spokesman said.
Berlin’s airport in Tegel cancelled 17 flights on Thursday because of problems at the airports in Paris and in London.