Russian Drivers Stuck In 120-Mile Traffic Jam

Snowbound traffic queue, Moscow 29/11/12


Thousands of cars, lorries and motorists became stuck for up to three days in a huge traffic jam on a motorway northwest of Moscow after Russia was hit by heavy snowfall.

The length of the queue on the M-10 highway, which is one of the busiest in the country, was put at up to 120 miles (200km), according to media reports.

Some 4,000 trucks were thought to be involved.

Unusually severe conditions for early winter and heavy snow were blamed for the gridlock, which paralysed circulation over the weekend and into Monday.

Drivers waited for hours without moving in temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius, with one motorist reported as saying he had travelled just “one kilometre over 24 hours”.

Field kitchens were set up along stretches of the road, which is surrounded by a forest, in an attempt to ensure people had food and drink.

But many of those stranded came close to running out of fuel as they kept their engines and heating running in the sub-zero temperatures.

“Drivers help one another and that’s it, the problems are on the side of the authorities. There are no gasoline tankers, no water, nothing. We are just stuck here,” a truck driver called Sergei said.

Officials said that traffic had been moving normally again since the early hours of Monday but acknowledged more needed to be done to prevent a repeat of the problems.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said it was clear road services had not worked effectively.

“At the start of the snowfall, not even a half of the available technical hardware was used.

“Many drivers were stuck without provisions and fuel in the middle of a forest. This is not a European road but a Russian one, a forest road,” he said.

Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov described the problems as “a good lesson for all the services”.

“They need to work on the roads and not in their warm offices,” he warned.

Russia map


The M-10 links Moscow with Russia’s second largest city St Petersburg.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the road services needed to work efficiently and prevent such incidents from happening.

But he also appeared to admit that such problems were inevitable given Russia’s harsh climatic conditions.

“Drivers need to be prepared for the fact that the weather in our country is very, very complicated and there is always going to be snow,” Mr Medvedev said on television.

Russian authorities have been accused of sluggish responses to weather-related problems, including deadly wildfires in 2010 and flooding in the south this summer.

The M-10 highway links Moscow with Russia’s second largest city St Petersburg, some 435 miles (700km) from the capital, and stretches on to the border with Finland.

Russia’s roads have been the butt of criticism since Tsarist times and its infrastructure has been plagued with problems since the Soviet era when defence spending was high at the expense of roads, housing, healthcare and other civilian needs.