More must be done to enable transport systems to cope with bad winter weather, a report by MPs said today.
Recent floods and gales showed that resulted in disruption across Sussex and beyond was not just caused by snow, the report by the House of Commons Transport Committee said.
Aviation regulators had to "get to the bottom of what went wrong" last week at Gatwick airport where passengers complained of chaotic conditions just before Christmas, the committee's chairman, Louise Ellman, said.
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Transport's winter resilience had improved but there was a risk that a few years of mild winter weather "could lead to a false sense of security and reduce the sector's preparedness over the longer term", the report said.
The committee said:
- It is vital that passengers receive up-to-date information of changes and disruption whenever possible
- More needs to be done to keep pavements clear of snow and ice
- A national advertising campaign should highlight that the public can clear snow and ice from outside their homes without fear of legal action and should consider doing so
- The transport sector must work closely with the Met Office and other forecasters to understand the challenges posed by different types of severe weather
- The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should set out how it will evaluate the impact of the new airport licence conditions on passenger welfare, by spring 2015. The CAA must also ensure that best practice on the provision of information and on passenger welfare is shared across all UK airports
- The Highways Agency should review the barriers to providing comprehensive real-time information to drivers, identify technological and other solutions for doing so, particularly during periods of disruption, and develop a strategy to implement these solutions across England's major road network
- The Office of Rail Regulation should ensure that train operating companies develop more robust procedures to identify how long a period of disruption is likely to last and to communicate this clearly to passengers.
Launching the report today, Mrs Ellman said: "Disruption to transport is not just caused by snow. We saw recently the impact of severe storms and flooding on transport services.
"At Gatwick, thousands of passengers were stranded over the Christmas period due to a power failure during stormy weather. The CAA must get to the bottom of what went wrong and how airports across the country can avoid similar situations in the future."
She went on: "We recognise that some progress has been made by Government and transport providers to improve public information and passenger welfare during severe weather. In particular, pro-active decision-making by rail and aviation operators to reduce or cancel services ahead of a major event has reduced disruption."
"Nevertheless, we believe there remains considerable scope for further improvement across the transport sector."