And the Snow Falls…And Falls

By | Category: Travel rumblings

For the last week or so, there has been snowfall over much of the eastern side of the UK. It has been unrelenting in places with stories of the lowest temperatures since records began and the usual heroic tales of the ability of people to get to work. For the traveller, this has been trying and much is made of the fact that other countries are prepared so why aren’t we? Is this fair criticism?
By tomorrow morning Gatwick will have been closed for 3 days. Why should this happen to one of the most important airports in the world let alone this country? For a start it has one runway. So if snow falls, there will be delays whilst it is cleared. There is no alternative unlike other airports with two runways. Secondly the snow has hardly let up. But it was not only Gatwick that has been affected. Edinburgh, where they are more used to snow clearance has also been badly hit. But then abroad in Switzerland, Geneva had been closed for much of yesterday and this airport is a key airport delivering passengers to the ski-slopes. So they haven’t managed even with all their experience. Munich in Southern Germany has also been hit as has Berlin but both are about back to normal now. So it is not just us that has problems.
In the south east of England, we have a third rail power system which has a habit of causing problems when snow hits. This might be why Southern Railways has no service till 10am this morning. Southeastern has also been badly affected,But South Western who operate on the same system had no problems to speak off on their lines through eastern Surrey which has been badly affected by snow. Outside the south east, those railways with overhead cables have been affected in the past and East Coast, East Midlands, Nothern and First TransPennine have all had to alter the timetables to cope. The only “successful” operating rail system seems to be diesel which has rescued me from broken down electric times quite often in the past. Readers with more knowledge, please comment.
The M25 had 400 lorries parked on the Surrey section over night on Tuesday. The M20 is closed in part today and the M3 is supposedly down to one lane in each direction. In Barnsley, Sheffield and other parts of South Yorkshire, whole housing estates are cut off. No buses run. In the Borders, even where they are more used to it than us southerners, they have been problems getting around. What’s the betting that football fixtures on Saturday will be affected by an inability of fans to get to the stadia. So is it all due to lack of gritting? Again, readers with more knowledge please let us know. We are told there is more grit around than last winter. But isn’t grit useless if snow falls on top of it? Does grit only really function if it lies on the top?
Heathrow has these de-icing trucks that lay down a film that stops the runway icing for up to 24 hours and each costs £200,000. A few of those on the roads might be useful. But then policy seems to be to attend only to main roads. Most of us live on minor roads. The problem for us is getting to the roads that are gritted.
What’s the betting that everything will be put down to cost and that that this snow is exceptional? Except this is the third hard winter in a row!

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