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Record snowfall causes transport chaos amid more snow

Record snowfall levels have caused serious transport issues up and down the country, as 25 departments remain on orange alert from Météo France, and drivers are asked not to use their cars.

Since Tuesday night (February 6), at least 12cm of snow has fallen on Paris, and in some areas around Ile-de-France, over 20cm has been recorded; reportedly this is the most snow to have fallen in one night since the winter of 1987.

Transport conditions have prompted the Interior Minister’s office to request that people not use their cars in any snow-affected areas, except where absolutely necessary.

“We ask drivers to not use their car this morning,” said spokesman Frédéric de Lanouvelle, calling the situation “exceptional” and “very complicated”.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people were blocked overnight on the Route Nationale 118, many without any extra water, food supplies or blankets. Reports from people there have said that they have had little help from authorities or any emergency services, or any idea of how long they might be stuck. Yet, France Info this morning reports that evacuation efforts are now underway.

The travel disruption goes beyond the roads; over 700 passengers were stuck and given shelter in the Montparnasse and Austerlitz stations overnight last night, and over 600 people needed to be given shelter in Paris homeless shelters too, due to being stranded by the snow.

Many RER and tramway lines continue to be blocked, while the RATP bus service has stopped most of its services, and will only begin this morning on a “case by case” basis. Train company SNCF has asked passengers to postpone their travels if possible. The Paris Métro continues to run, in most cases.

Taxis are still running where possible, but they are scarce, and prices on services such as Uber have surged to more than double the usual cost due to increased demand.

Transport companies have put in place their “snow plans”, but some are unable to run their services due to mechanical problems in low temperatures and the lack of personnel, with many workers themselves not been able to get to work in the first place.

So far, airports in the region are managing to cope, with de-icers being used, but passengers are advised to check before travelling and arrive as early as possible.

Snow is expected to continue to fall until midday today (Wednesday February 7), especially for the 25 departments still on orange warning for snow and ice.

All are in the northern part of the country - forming a loose circle from Maine-et-Loire in the west, Eure in the north, Ardennes in the north-east, and Cher further south - and still including Paris and Ile-de-France.

More snow is expected in most areas in orange alert.

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