More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon

More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon

Weather forecasters are warning of more disruption on the roads and railways on Monday afternoon as a fresh band of snow sweeps in from the south. On Sunday KLM cancelled 282 flights from Schiphol and the motoring organisation ANWB reported dozens of accidents on snowbound motorways. One driver died in hospital after his car collided with a train near Velp. A further 122 flights have been cancelled to European destinations on Monday afternoon as a precaution, a KLM spokesman told RTL. Monday morning was dry and clear, but roads were reported to be quieter than usual as commuters appeared to heed warnings to work from home or postpone appointments if possible. NS is running a reduced rail timetable on Monday, with intercity services on the busiest lines cut from four trains an hour to two. 'That means longer journeys, more frequent changes and busier trains,' warned a spokesman. Vannacht wordt het geleidelijk droger en gaat het licht vriezen. Let op gladheid! Morgenochtend start droog, maar daarna: zie de beelden hieronder. — William Huizinga (@WilliamHuizinga) December 10, 2017 Weather bureau KNMI has issued a Code Orange warning from midday, when heavy snow is expected to move in through the south of the country. Some areas could see as 15cm in the course of the afternoon. The heaviest snowfalls are predicted to be in south-western and central regions. Temperatures in these areas could fall as low as minus 6C, with subzero conditions in most of the country on Monday evening. Voor het dikste pak sneeuw moet je naar de hoge Veluwe: 34 cm! Morgen valt opnieuw sneeuw, heb jij er al zin in? Foto: Mark Wolvenne uit Terwolde. — Weeronline (@weeronline) 10 december 2017 The ANWB warned that 'extreme delays' were likely and advised drivers to delay their journeys if possible. UPDATE Reisadvies ANWB: Stel maandag, indien mogelijk, de reis uit en schort afspraken op: — ANWB (@ANWB) 10 december 2017 Flights from Schiphol were cancelled on Sunday because the airport was only able to keep one runway clear of snow. One passenger, Tanya Cunningham, told DutchNews she was stranded at the airport overnight after a delay to her inbound flight from Luxembourg meant she missed her connection to Minneapolis. She said lack of communication and long queues at transfer desks had compounded the problem: 'The terminal is full of hungry, tired, frustrated travellers like myself who have paid for service from airlines... to provide, at the very least, a cup of coffee, a snack, [and] some assurance of our safety and well-being.' Schiphol said it expected to run a normal service on Monday morning after clearing the overnight snow, but warned that more delays were likely after 3.30pm as conditions deteriorate.  More >

Ticket barriers shut at Amsterdam Central

More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon From Monday Amsterdam Central Station's main concourse will only be accessible to people with a valid travel card. The move is part of a wider NS strategy to improve safety and stop people travelling without paying the fare. Until now the ticket barriers have been open, meaning people can pass through without a ticket or OV chipcard. Rail operator NS has been closing the gates at main stations across the country such as Rotterdam and Utrecht over the past year. People who are seeing off friends and relatives, or want to reach the shops on the concourse, will not be charged if they check in and out within an hour – but they will still need to have enough credit on their OV chipcard for a journey in order to pass through the gates. NS said that closing the gates was an essential measure to reduce fare dodging, which it says is one of the main causes of aggression and violence on the trains. By the end of the year ticket barriers will be closed at 74 of the 400 stations, affecting 87% of passengers.   More >

Texting at wheel could be made a crime

More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon Sending text messages and apps from behind the wheel is likely to become a criminal offence after a majority of MPs said they backed a change in the law. The government wants to class using a mobile phone screen at the wheel as 'reckless behaviour' equivalent to driving under the influence of drink and drugs, leading to a driving ban and prison sentences for the worst offenders. Texting while driving is banned but not explicitly cited in the law, and usually punished by a fine. Last week a woman from Texel who knocked down a 21-year-old cyclist who later died was given a 120-hour compulsory work order. The prosecution said she had been texting at the time of the crash but the court said there was not enough evidence to prove it. Infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen told MPs on Wednesday that she was concerned about the wide use of smartphones by motorists. 'Every day we see cyclists and drivers swerving around and our aim is clear: the number of victims of road traffic incidents needs to go down.' Van Nieuwenhuizen also said she would adapt her ministerial cars so that drivers could not use their phones behind the wheel. 'It's a good example which people would do well to follow,' she said.  More >

Fingerprints in EU passports are useless

More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon Eight years since European citizens were first required to include a fingerprint scan in their passports, the technology has never been used to check a passenger crossing a border, according to a Dutch media investigation. Compulsory fingerprinting was introduced in 2009 across the European Union as part of the new biometric passport, which was intended to improve border security. The measure aimed to stop 'lookalike fraud', whereby somebody travels on the passport of someone who strongly resembles them. Dutch local authorities have spent €32 million installing 4,800 scanners which have taken 20 million prints in the last eight years. But according to an investigation by NOS, border control agencies are still unable to use them to verify passengers. European nations have not yet agreed on a way to share access to the 'key' - the digital signature that allows other countries' border guards to read their fingerprint information - making the exercise redundant. No information shared The Dutch interior ministry admitted to NOS that it had not shared its 'key' with any other country or received the necessary information from any foreign government. Schiphol airport also said that its machinery for reading fingerprints had never been tested for security - and so cannot be used. Biometric security expert Max Snijder said the project had been a comprehensive failure. 'The fact that we have to supply fingerprints that can't actually be used is incomprehensible,' he told NOS. However, the Netherlands cannot opt out of the scheme because it is a binding agreement between the signatories to the Schengen open borders agreement. Within the EU only the UK, Ireland and Denmark are able to opt out. 9/11 Passport applicants who refuse to submit their fingerprints can be refused a passport under a ruling by the Council of State last May, which said that the Dutch government's obligation to comply with European agreements outweighed personal privacy concerns. The idea to include fingerprints in passports was a response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Politicians argued that adding extra layers of security to passports would make it harder for terrorists to pass through airports undetected. Within a month the Dutch government had come forward with a plan to include fingerprints. The measure was also intended to reduce identity fraud. But local authorities said they had only used it in a handful of cases. A sample of fingerprints in passports also found that around 20% were invalid, either because the quality was too poor or because of an administrative error such as saving the image upside down. A spokesman for the interior ministry told NOS that it was hopeful that Europe would manage to arrange for the exchange of biometric information 'within a number of years'.  More >

Two-killed in head-on crash in Limburg

More heavy snow likely to cause rush-hour chaos on Monday afternoon Two people have died in a collision involving a car travelling the wrong way on the A73 in Limburg. The head-on crash happened at about 10.30pm on Sunday on the southbound carriageway, at the entrance to the Roertunnel. The drivers of both cars were killed. 1Limburg reported that one of the vehicles had been filmed driving against the traffic nine kilometres further up the road a few minutes earlier, near the Maasbracht junction, with its lights flashing. The motorway was closed in both directions for several hours while the scene was cleared. The force of the collision sent debris from the vehicles across to the northbound carriageway. The road was reopened at around 5am. Busiest rush hour The crash happened on the eve of the busiest rush-hour of the year so far, as heavy rain and a spate of accidents led to 889 kilometres of tailbacks across the country. The worst queues were on the A9 between Alkmaar and Diemen, where the ANWB reported 50-minute delays, as well as the A4 and A12. A collision involving a lorry on the A37 near the German border close to Emmen also caused misery for motorists.    More >