Snowstorms: police urge motorists to stay home
26 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Despite a warning from the national police force KLPD for motorists to stay at home if possible, snow, slippery roads and strong winds led to the second worst day of Dutch traffic jams ever on Thursday morning.
The KLPD said roads were barely passable as snow ploughs were called in because the spreading of salt failed to adequately clear the nation’s motorways of snow. The situation around Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam was described as serious.
A spokesman from the KLPD had warned motorists to be prepared for slippery roads, poor visibility and a considerable longer commute time, news agency ANP reported.
Dutch motorists association ANWB also issued a weather warning, but the KLPD request for motorists to stay at home was lifted later in the morning.
Traffic delays started early and by 7am there were 48 traffic jams extending to almost 330km. The Dutch traffic information centre (Verkeerscentrum Nederland) said at about 8am there were 63 traffic jams with a total length of 860km.
Thursday was thus likely to be recorded as the second worst day in Dutch motoring history, trailing the delays of 8 February 1999, when traffic jams extended to a length of 975km, a nu.nl news report said.
The longest delay on Thursday was on the A2 Den Bosch-Amsterdam motorway where a 57km traffic jam developed between the Deil and Amstel junctions.
Rail network administrator ProRail said there were no trains operating to and from Amsterdam on Thursday morning due to the heavy snowstorms around the Dutch capital. Rail problems were also being reported elsewhere around the country, especially between Breda and Roosendaal.
A ProRail spokeswoman said a blizzard-like situation around Amsterdam was leading to faults in track interchange points. “It is bad and angry,” she said. Trains started running again from 8am onwards, but ProRail warned of continued delays.
All hands were on deck at Schiphol Airport to clear a second runway of snow. Due to the poor weather, the airport was operating with just one runway at about 7am and several airplanes had been diverted to other European airports, a Schiphol spokesman said.
The airport needs three runways during peak hours and by 8am a second runway had been opened and work was being conducted to open a third. There were still delays being reported, but intercontinental fights had encountered few delays, newspaper De Telegraaf said.
A total of 30 traffic accidents took place on the national motorways between midnight and the early part of the morning peak hour on Thursday. Three people received minor injuries. By 8.50am, about 75 accdients had been reported.
The KLPD spokesman said some motorists had not realised the seriousness of the situation and were driving too fast without maintaining sufficient distance between themselves and other vehicles. The ANWB later said that motorists eventually adjusted well to the conditions.
The wintry weather also caused havoc with traffic on Wednesday as two injured people were airlifted to a hospital in The Hague after a pile up involving 11 cars and two trucks on the A13 motorway.
The accident occurred near Delft late on Wednesday morning during a heavy snowstorm and a 13km traffic jam developed as police closed the road for several hours.
Besides the A13 pile-up, there were a large number of collisions reported in other parts of the country on Wednesday, especially during the morning and evening rush hours.
About 1,100 calls, mainly related to traffic accidents, were placed with the Apeldorrn-based Insurance Assistance Service (VHD). The emergency alarm centre for Dutch insurers said it usually receives between 500 and 600 calls each day.
The organisation said the total was noteworthy because part of the Netherlands has school holidays. Double the amount of reports was recorded both in the morning and evening peak hours. Motorists were requesting, for example, tow truck assistance.
The weather caused a greater number of traffic jams than usual on Wednesday as the evening peak hour started earlier than normal. At about 4.30pm, a total of 32 traffic jams extended to a total length of 118km, before peaking with 40 traffic jams and a length of 165km.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news