London poised for snow as TfL announces measures

Preparations have been made across London to deal with what is forecast to be 5-10cm (up to 4in) of snow falling across England's capital city.

Transport for London (TfL) said that over 100,000 tonnes of salt was ready to put on the roads, more than before.

Following serious disruption in previous years, TfL said that co-ordination across boroughs had been improved.

Measures have also been taken to safeguard the Tube service, it said.

BAA said one-third of Sunday's 1,200 or so flights from Heathrow had been cancelled.

Heathrow's chief operating officer Normand Boivin said the decision to introduce a revised flight schedule before snow had fallen was taken in an effort to minimise disruption to passengers.

Air passengers at London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports have been advised to contact their airline for more information.

Ready and confident

"We've learned a lot of lessons," said Garrett Emerson, chief operating officer for surface transport at TfL.

"We've done a lot of work with the boroughs to make sure that everybody's agreed on what routes are priority routes and the order with which they get gritted."

He said that there was a dedicated snow desk in the transport operators' control centre and a fleet of 40 gritters was on standby.

Image caption Garrett Emerson of TfL said coordination has been improved

Harrow Council said its salt barn was almost full.

The council shares its supply with Brent, and each borough has over 3,000 tonnes stockpiled, a spokesman said.

"In the last two winters we have used approximately 1,500 tonnes each year so we are confident that the stock is sufficient for almost anything the winter could bring," he said.

The Mayor of London, TfL and London Councils - which represents London's 32 boroughs - all said co-ordination had been improved.

London Underground and London Rail have engineers ready to be mobilised with point heaters in place at key sections of the network, said TfL.

'Mega snow'

Improvements have been made in outlying areas of the Tube network that suffered last year.

These include bringing in extra stocks of components and taking measures to stop wheels slipping on the Central line.

However, despite this the Jubilee Line was suspended, and there were part suspensions on the Metropolitan, Northern and Piccadilly lines due to the adverse weather conditions on Saturday night.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Across all our roads and rails, hundreds of workers are on standby to ensure that, should we receive a mega deposit of snow, we are in a position to keep the capital moving."

Meanwhile, London Ambulance Service has warned people to call only in the event of a life-threatening situation.

Assistant chief ambulance officer John Pooley said: "We are preparing as well we can for what might happen with the weather, but we would also ask Londoners to help us by using the 999 system wisely."

He said there were a number of common-sense things people could do to avoid needing an ambulance, such as wrapping up warm and taking extra care outside.

He added that being taken to hospital in an ambulance for "non-emergency treatment" would not make any difference to how quickly they would be seen.

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