A Daunting First Winter Changeover in the Alps

The first changeover day of the winter holidays on Boxing Day saw unexpectedly heavy traffic to and from the Alps. Thankfully it wasn’t snowing. Plus a look ahead to traffic over New Year.

Also, a very quick look at Audi’s rally legend. Another ‘foreign driver’ tragedy Iceland. The latest on various efforts to reopen a UK-Scandinavia ferry route.

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DAUNTING FIRST WINTER CHANGEOVER DAY IN THE ALPS

Does Saturday’s heavy traffic bode badly for the rest of the winter season?

Very busy holiday traffic into the Alps on Boxing Day Saturday. Thank goodness there was no snow. More later.

Southbound B179 Fernpass mid-afternoon on Saturday, actually just after delays started to come down. More west Austria trafficams at Tirol

Alps-bound drivers on Boxing Day (Saturday 26 December) may have been depressed about the lack of snow on the slopes but should have been happy there was none on the roads.

For what had been billed as an amber traffic day in France – two notches down from the worst possible black – there were still enough cars around to cause a 90min delay on the A6 into Paris at 19:00.

Traffic headed from Paris to the Alps via Lyon, and back in the other direction, starting early at both ends.

There were some delays on the A10 Paris-Bordeaux, including a major accident, otherwise Paris-Alps was the only very busy route. There was no traffic on the A51 up towards Gap from the south for instance.

Germany was truer to form on a day which the ADAC billed as ‘the first day of the winter jam season’.

Apart from the busy A1 between Dortmund and Bremen, heavy traffic visibility gravitated towards the south east, especially across the border with Austria on Saturday.

Drivers waited a consistent 2h00 southbound on the B179 Fernpass before the delay came down to 45mins after lunch.

There were no other massive delays, but the A8-A7 Karlsruhe-Stuttgart-Ulm/Memmingen (and down to Austria and Fernpass) was the busiest route. Less so A9-A8 Nuremberg-Munich-Salzburg.

Switzerland was busy too, though not at the Gotthard Tunnel. Road works westbound at the A1/A2 Basel-Bern-Zurich intersection at Egerkingen saw a persistent one hour delay.

Italy was not so bad after a very busy pre-Christmas rush. There were some queues northbound on the A22 Brennero pinch-point at Verona but no major delays.

Sunday was a rerun albeit at a much lower level.

Maybe it was because Boxing Day coincided with the first changeover day of the winter season but there was a surprising amount of traffic on Europe’s roads on Saturday. The two hour queue at the Fernpass is particularly alarming. What will Half-Term be like?

Tip: while it is still open, dodge Fernpass on Hahntennjoch.

Looking ahead: the next busy days in France will be the weekend after New Year with quite heavy traffic returning to Paris on Saturday 2 January, and all over the country on Sunday. It will also be quite busy in Germany on Wednesday 30 December and again on Friday but the weekend will see proper delays ahead of a whole month of very busy Fridays and Saturdays, except 15-16 January. The dreaded B179 Fernpass will see long queues in both directions on Saturday 2 January, and the A14 eastbound at Bludenz in west Austria. Saturday and Sunday are black days on the A22 Brennero Verona-Innsbruck, northbound in the morning, southbound in the afternoon. See more New Year Traffic + Travel

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Snapshot from Audi of the 1985 Audi Sport quattro S1 rally car, with around 500bhp and 480Nm torque at 8000rpm. It weighed 1,090kg and got to 100kmh (62mph) in 3.1 seconds.

Snapshot from Audi of the 1985 Audi Sport quattro S1 rally car, with around 500bhp and 480Nm torque at 8000rpm. It weighed 1,090kg and got to 100kmh (62mph) in 3.1 seconds.

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roundup: ICELAND. One ‘foreign tourist’ was killed and five others injured in a two car crash on Boxing Day (Saturday). The accident happened on an icy road near a one-way bridge in Öræfi, Southeast Iceland reports Iceland Review. None of the injuries are thought to be serious. Concerns were raised recently about the number of tourist drivers involved in serious accidents. SCANDINAVIA FERRY. Prospective Harwich-Denmark ferry operator Regina Line will not be restarting the service next spring. After originally announcing the service in August 2014, little has been heard from the firm. A statement recently posted on its website says, ‘We are sorry …… The wessel (sic) we had chartered to sail on the route from spring 2016 we can not take over in February 2016, as planned. We currently do not know when we can start. Please keep an eye on the website.’ Meanwhile, the RHEG Reopen Harwich to Esbjerg Ferry Group has obtained an interesting statement from P&O Ferries (via @UKtoNorwayFerry): ‘Our commercial department is constantly looking into the feasibility on routes to Denmark, and we will continue to look into this if the market allows us to. However for now we will not be opening another route.’ This leaves British Scandinavian as the best hope.

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