Saturday 3rd March
Well, I am back in the UK, and the country is snowbound. Well, not really. I know I have just been in Stansted and London and many parts of the country have had it worse, but it doesn’t really seem that bad. An inch of snow, maybe. So, why has this year’s snowfall caused so much trouble. Are we going soft? Or is something else going on?
It may actually be a coming together of several factors. Firstly, it is the first year in quite a few, when we have even seen any snow. I know that memory is an unreliable guide, but growing up, snow was not unusual. We had some Winters worse than others, especially 1963. But many years as an adult I seem to recall trudging through much deeper snow than this. So, maybe we are just not so used to it. But….this was hardly unexpected. It had been predicted quite a few days in advance. The country should not have been taken by surprise.
It came late in the year. Maybe our defences were down, we thought the Winter was over. But none of this would begin to explain how badly this spell of snow and cold has affected our transport systems.
My plane arrived over two hours late from Stansted. It had to be de-iced after landing there. But, at least Stansted kept planes flying. Both Heathrow and Gatwick cancelled flights and Glasgow and Cardiff shut down entirely.
But it was the trains which seem to have been hardest hit. I had to wait 35 minutes for the train from London on Thursday night; there is normally a train every 15 minutes. And we crawled into London. Friday morning there were no trains going out of Liverpool Street to Clacton on even to Colchester. They did start running by midday, but I was worried about getting back, so I didn’t venture out to Walton this visit. The roads, according to the TV have been badly affected too, and some people were trapped in cars or trains all night.
So, the country is pretty snowbound. People are warned to only travel if absolutely necessary – but how do you define that? Many hourly paid staff will simply not be paid if they don’t get in to work.
And there were even scares that the country might be running out of gas. The excuse is that as we only get this level of snow about every 10 years it isn’t worth investing in the systems that allow other countries to deal with this sort of weather. You have to wonder it the disruption and damage caused is not worth it either..