© TimesSnowfall today hit Coverdale, in the Pennines
Heavy snowfall blanketed parts of Britain last night as forecasters warned that treacherous conditions could lead to disruption on main road and rail networks.

Several inches of snow fell in East Anglia and Cambridgeshire with a peppering of showers in other parts of the country, including the Midlands and Essex. The Met Office also issued severe weather warnings for very heavy snowfall in London, the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands

Local authorities and transport agencies were on high alert last night, with fleets of gritters and de-icing lorries ready to be dispatched to keep key commuting routes clear today.

As commuters anticipated disruption this morning, a spokesman for Transport for London insisted that lessons had been learnt after snowfall brought the entire bus network to a standstill in February and paralysed other public transport links.

"We will be working throughout the night to keep the roads clear," he said. "We have 9,000 tonnes of grit, which is enough to get through 72 days of bad weather, or six days of continuous snowfall."

He added that there would also be 38 gritters and 40 hand-gritters patrolling 350 miles of roads that fall within TfL's remit, while a fleet of de-icing "ghost trains" would be used throughout the night to prevent excess snow building up on the 55 per cent of Tube tracks that run overground. To minimise disruption to London's bus routes, he said: "We will also be working with our colleagues in local authorities at key locations to ensure buses get out of depots and along key routes."

A spokesman for the Highways Agency, which looks after motorways and major roads in England, said that its teams were ready to react to the bad weather. He said that, in the South East alone, the agency had 25 winter maintenance compounds which would be able to treat all its roads within three hours of severe weather being forecast.

As far as the inevitable question is concerned - will it be a white Christmas? - forecasters say that the chance of snow on December 25 continues to "hang in the balance". Ladbrokes cut its odds on London having a white Christmas from 5-2 to 2-1. It is offering odds of 2-1 for a white Christmas in Glasgow. Aberdeen has odds of 11-8 and Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin and Manchester are all on 11-4.