Transport review ordered as snowbound Britain grinds to a halt

Britain's transport services have been called to account after the country once again ground to a halt thanks to wintery conditions.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond has ordered a review of the nation's snow-readiness after facing criticism for the virtual collapse of the transport network.

"I share the frustration of the travelling public and we need to be sure that we are doing everything possible to keep Britain moving," he said.

"Unfortunately, in extreme weather conditions some disruption is inevitable but there is no excuse for poor communication with passengers and motorists."

Despite stockpiling a reported 260,000 tonnes of salt, the Highways Agency has struggled to keep the UK's motorways and trunk roads clear.

With the network impaired by heavy snowfall, the nation's daily commute has fast become a losing battle with the elements with many eschewing the conditions for a day at home.

Motoring organisations were quick vent the frustration doubtless felt by the drivers forced to sleep in their cars on Tuesday night.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "We might have more salt than last year but we need better planning to allow gritters through blocked roads. But again we hear that farmers offering to use tractors as snow
ploughs were prevented from doing so as the insurance had not come through.

"In the 21st century, we should not have people stuck on the motorway all night or stranded on trains. We need better plans to prevent people continuing to join motorways once they are gridlocked."

With parts of Britain likely to face a further 20cm of snow before the end of the week, the Transport Secretary has asked chairman of the RAC Foundation David Quarmby to conduct an audit of the highway authorities to see if there is any further action that needs to be taken.

"Complacency is not an option. There are lessons to be learned from our performance in every bout of bad weather and it is important that we learn those now," he said.
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