Headlines: May 12th, 2011

The severe weather conditions in December 2010 brought chaos to road, rail and air transport across the UK. The Transport Select Committee investigation found widespread evidence of a weak passenger care culture and has called for change.

Launching the report examining how snow chaos last December closed Heathrow, disabled parts of the rail network and disrupted many roads, Transport Committee Chair Louise Ellman said: “It’s clear that Heathrow airport was totally unprepared to recover from any major incident which necessitated its closure and that its owners underinvested in winter resilience equipment.”

More can and should be done to ensure UK transport networks continue to operate in severe winter weather, say MPs. The welfare of air and rail passenger must be taken more seriously and better real time information must be provided to road users.

A key issue underlying all forms of transport is the industry culture towards users of services and the Committee has called for a culture change.

Airport operators must plan properly for bad weather so that people are not left stranded and without even basic supplies in airport terminals for days on end. They should develop effective Passenger Welfare Plans.

A culture change is also needed in the rail industry to ensure that passengers are looked after during periods of disruption. In future, firms responsible for any failure to provide information about service disruption during severe weather should compensate those inconvenienced.

The Highways Agency and police forces must work to manage blockages on the strategic road network more pro-actively. They should give road users more consideration and make greater use of roadside and in-car information systems to warn motorists about poor conditions and disruption.