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Snow Hits French Train Services, Blocks Lyon Airport Arrivals

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Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Heavy snow disrupted high-speed train services in central France and forced the Lyon Saint-Exupery airport near the edge of the Alps to divert arriving planes.

France prepared for worsening transport disruption today as the national weather agency Meteo France predicted severe snowfalls later in the afternoon and overnight.

Lyon Saint-Exupery airport was closed to arrivals this morning as incoming flights were diverted to Marseille because of low visibility, Agence France-Presse reported. Runway de-icing teams were on standby for a renewed onslaught of bad weather, according to the airport’s Web site. Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are still operating normally.

Snowfalls are expected to intensify from around 4:00 p.m., according to a forecast on the Meteo France agency’s Web site.

Emergency services were on alert for further disruption in 17 central and eastern districts after snow blocked roads overnight, stranding motorists and an estimated 7,200 truck drivers as the town of Orleans recorded a temperature of -15.3 degrees Celsius, the lowest on record for November or December since 1946.

The SNCF national railway said today it had limited top speeds to 160 kmh (100 miles per hour) on some stretches of its high-speed line through central France, leading to delays of up to 90 minutes for trains between Paris, Lyon and Marseille.

Eurostar, Power

Eurostar Group Ltd. also cancelled six of its Channel Tunnel passenger services linking London to Paris and Brussels and introduced speed restrictions for the rest.

Electricite de France SA’s power grid is expecting record demand today and tomorrow amid the cold snap that has increased the country’s reliance on imports.

Temperatures will plunge to as much as 10 degrees below normal tomorrow, Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, EDF’s wholly owned grid operator, said on its Web site.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurence Frost in Paris at lfrost4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net.