Storms: Drivers and passengers need better data - MPs

A motorway sign warning of bad weather

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Better real-time information should be provided to rail and air passengers and drivers when bad weather strikes the transport system, MPs say.

The transport committee said it was "vital" information was provided which was up-to-date and broken down to specific areas and services.

Chairman Louise Ellman also said more action was needed to clear pavements of ice and snow in future.

Rail firms said they were reviewing how they communicate during disruptions.

In its report, the cross-party committee said regulators must also seek to avoid a repeat of last week's problems at Gatwick.

Delayed passengers at Gatwick Passengers delayed on Christmas Eve at Gatwick

Thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport, which is south of London, as a result of a power cut during the stormy weather.

Mrs Ellman said: "The Civil Aviation Authority must get to the bottom of what went wrong and how airports across the country can avoid similar situations in the future."

In a wide-ranging report the committee said that transport problems had a direct impact not just on passengers and drivers but on the economy as a whole.

Since its previous report a national "salt reserve" had been created to avoid any future shortages for use on treating roads, the committee said.

But a national advertising campaign was needed to alert residents to the right to clear snow and ice from pavements outside their homes without fear of being sued by anyone slipping over.

A woman clears snow outside her north Wales home in March There is no legal risk to clearing snow from outside your home, the MPs say

The report quotes evidence given by Living Streets, a charity "that stands up for pedestrians", that councils "could do more to help organise teams of volunteer snow wardens".

During the course of their inquiry the committee heard that weather forecasts had played a key role in preparing for bad weather - most notably with the pre-emptive cancellation of train and air services during the St Jude storm at the end of October.

But Mrs Ellman said "it is vital that passengers receive up-to-date information of changes and disruption wherever possible", including airports and rail operators clearly signalling how long delays might last.

A road being cleared of snow near Burnley last March Improvements to clearing roads in recent years was praised

Drivers should also get better details before and during bad weather, with the MPs urging the Highways Agency to "identify technological and other solutions" to provide "comprehensive real time information to drivers... across the strategic road network".

'Taken by surprise'

The committee report quotes evidence given by the Institute of Advanced Motorists that information is "not yet tailored to the individual needs of drivers".

"Blanket warnings about 'essential' journeys are of little value without a full definition of 'essential'."

Mrs Ellman said: "Transport is vital to economic growth and while we recognise that some progress has been made by the government and transport to improve public information and passenger welfare during severe weather... we believe there remains considerable scope for further improvement.

"It is vital that the UK is ready and waiting for adverse weather and not taken by surprise."

The Rail Delivery Group, which speaks on behalf of train operators and Network Rail, welcomed recognition of the "significant improvements" made by the industry in how it kept travellers informed when services were cancelled or delayed.

"The rail industry is already carrying out a review of the code of practice on how we communicate with passengers during disruption," a spokesman said.

"It will listen carefully to any proposals to improve further the service we offer to travellers."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    A railway worker once told my wife that the reason there were so many points failures was because they were purchased from the former East Germany. That should tell you all you need to know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Nick has promised us the Eu's weather.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    The Environmental agency are a waste of time. They leave fallen trees in the rivers and call it creating habitat. They don`t do anything to the banks, such as clearing the bushes and let them grow and clog up with all sorts of debris. They leave the floodgates open for far to long and as a result lots of fish get swept away. They still take £27.00 off of all fishermen and return nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Leaves on the line is something unavoidable when it comes to train services, and as much as I hate to admit it, there's very little that can be done before the fact other than cutting down all the trees.

    I think though more should be done with flood prevention, or at least find a way to mitigate all the problems. We hear of floods every single year yet more people suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    The MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Transport Committee, today gave an enlightened interview on BBC news 24. She quite obviously has either no idea on solving problems, how to investigate and attack issues, but was very good at repeatadily insisting the committee will be asking questions to certain agencies (Gatwick airport being one). Why do we have these absolutely useless committees??

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    "Why don't THEY
    do something useful?"
    How many times, John: useful to WHOM?

    And not so DOWN on 'them'!
    How, really, would you try to help such a mixed bunch of electors?

    The 1% who fund you ('fiercely independent' with homes on higher ground, in estates 'that can take-it'). The 99% who depend on 'public policy & purse', so far spared chargeable income as to depend on charity

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    356 Usual semi-intelligible pretentious nonsense I see.

    "When no more left of those who care, all in their 'lefty coffin, will the careless world be 'better'?" - they don't care, they want to control and bully and tax and impose their "morality" and hateful something for nothing creed on everyone because they know best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    HS2 will run from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It will benefit those in Liverpool, Glasgow, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. How do you make that an M25 area benefit only?
    In terms of our electrical grid, there has not been one failure caused by wind or flooding to the HV grid during the bad weather, how do you justify burying it when it's not failed?
    Are you a NIMBY?

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    People saying we need to invest in winter tyres and upgrading our snow removal solutions are misinformed. We don't get enough of the stuff to justify the expense so for the rare times we get bad weather we need to put up with it, but we do need more on the hour information to help travellers

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Main problems is we don't have this kind of bad weather often enough to make it "cost effective" - in the eyes of the crazy short term folk who now run public policy - to have appropriate defences.
    Organizations are pressured into making "efficiency cuts" to make services cheaper/increase profits. And these kind of cuts take away the capacity needed to deal with such occasional extremes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    It comes down to risk management.
    If we had a contingency to cover every possible failure people would moan about the waste.
    You can see it now “Why do we have all these snow ploughs doing nothing for most of the year” “
    Occasionally it goes wrong but more people would moan if we spent what would be need to ensure there was never any risk.

  • Comment number 364.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Why do they always state the obvious is it just to show they care (which they don't) Good plan for you here MP's spend the billions you are talking about spending on HS2 and divert that money into flood defenses as best we can, better emergency services when required and better public transport lessening cars on the road allowing people to get home oh of course that wont happen to easy!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    Ed has promised to change the weather.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    359. labourpartydonor
    The government has prioritised extra spending on the NHS and cuts to the EA. What's wrong with that?
    Is that to prep it for sale to US healthcare companies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Simple answer NO to HS2, sent the money on improving transport UK wide, sorry that means for once you lot in the M25 Area must go on a diet you greedy piggy's you!

    As a spin off from HS2 money being spent on the whole nation not just the limited few aka the M25 area, we can take all of our electrical grid, and put it under ground making this wet and windy nations electrical power storm proof!

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    The government has prioritised extra spending on the NHS and cuts to the EA. What's wrong with that?

  • Comment number 358.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.


    If we piped all the hot air generated by the vacuous statements made by politicians it would melt the snow and ice as well as stop the poor from freezing to death.

    Better still: shove them out of the Palace of Westminster armed with brooms and shovels. There are several hundred thousands who could make a better fist of doing their job - why don't they actually do something useful?

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    Lightmare @343
    "lefty coffin"

    When no more left of those who care, all in their 'lefty coffin, will the careless world be 'better'?

    Have you not seen or taken the message of our Great British pantomime?

    Every time you say you don't believe in caring investment, another fairy dies and another family is flooded out, no-one responsible: individuals clinging to wreckage for want of mending the land


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