When they give a ‘storm’ a name, you know we’re in for a rough ride!
St Jude was the name given to last week’s storm, the announcement of which caused utter chaos. Trains were cancelled before there was even a gust of wind or any reported issues. Freak weather and public transport do not mix! But why is there no contingency plan?
All the precautions were initiated in the name of safety, and rightly so. Two people lost their lives as a direct result of the freak weather. From London suburbs it became almost impossible to get into the capital with little or no trains and buses able to penetrate the 200 fallen trees.
Thankfully, businesses didn’t suffer too much, apart from UK insurers who will have to pay out something in the region of £350m – £550m. Technology is allowing for more and more people to work remotely and aided by the relatively low cost of laptops and desktop computers its possible for anyone to be “in the office” even when they prevented from leaving the comfort of their home.
The reason for flagging weather issues and its relationship to British business is because we (Brits) seem to go into complete panic mode when the weather man displays a ‘severe’ icon. In 2011 the snow grounded some of the UKs major airports, all while our EU counterparts were having a good laugh at our inexperience and inability to handle a few drops of snow. Last week 130 flights were cancelled at Heathrow alone, while Gatwick operated a near-normal service.
Hurricane season is a regular occurrence is some countries, but British transport, for some reason, doesn’t seem to be able to handle it. Maybe there is too much red tape; maybe people are scared of common sense and doing the right thing that they play everything by the manual. ‘Safety first’ will always be the main priority, but when weather is concerned, it’s all or nothing; public transport is either working well or not at all.
Hopefully in time we’ll cope better with freak weather, until then I envisage more panicking and moaning when flights are grounded, trains are cancelled and roads are closed.
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