How Prepared Is TfL For The Snow?

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 63 months ago

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How Prepared Is TfL For The Snow?

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Image: TfL

TfL wants to allay the fears of Londoners, by bigging up its 'well-rehearsed plans' for the potentially severe weather headed the capital's way.

De-icing measures on tube and rail services — as well as 39 gritters to help clear the 580km of 'Red Routes' that TfL is responsible for — stand at the ready, for the 'whiteout' threatening London.

Image: TfL

Glynn Barton, Director of Network Management at TfL, says: "We have well-rehearsed procedures in place, in partnership with all London boroughs and the emergency services, to keep the capital moving during any wintry weather. We will be working around the clock to help keep the rail and strategic road networks up and running, as well as ensuring that footways and cycling routes remain safe."

Speaking of those cycling routes (yup, plenty of Londoners still cycle when it's freezing out), TfL is brandishing a 'new cycle way gritter'. Normal road grit relies on the weight of vehicles to crush the crystals, therefore cycle lanes require a special kind of potassium acetate de-icer. Actually, a dedicated cycle lane gritter was also in use last year — and London's cyclists will be hoping the additional one will help avoid scenes like this one in March 2018:

A TfL spokesperson told Londonist:

"We follow a process which starts our preparations five days before snow is forecasted and we review our performance afterwards.

"Following our review of the 'Beast from the East' we updated our processes... [we] worked closely with Network Rail to align our London Overground preparations with theirs and consulted with the Met Office to get more specific forecast information needed for London Underground."

Image: TfL

Elsewhere, measures — like joint salt stores at key locations across the capital, underground de-icing trains, gritting station platform etc — sound good, but are nowt new. And let's not forget that when we had snow in 2018, there were plenty of disruptions on the rails.

Of course, if the snow gets REALLY bad — like the megasnows of 2008 and 2009, when 10 of the 11 tube lines were left in chaos and London was all-but paralysed — there's no telling what might happen this time round. Fingers crossed any of the white stuff sticks to the predicted depth of 3cm — rather than the double figures it was hitting a decade ago.

TfL reminds customers to check before they travel during any severe cold weather period, on the TfL website, and by following @TfLTravelAlerts, @TfLTrafficNews and @TfLBusAlerts on Twitter. And to be fair, TfL didn't even have a Twitter account in 2008 — that's one notable improvement.

Last Updated 29 January 2019