Winter disruption – what do transport users need?

13 December 2022

This week we have seen plunging temperatures, icy conditions and several centimetres of snow across the country. All types of transport users can be impacted when this happens – plus rail users have strikes to contend with. 

Motorways and major ‘A’ roads are particularly affected, and we’ve already seen roads users stuck in traffic, for several hours in some cases. We are monitoring how National Highways is preparing for and responding to incidents in each region, especially with regard to driver welfare.  

From our 2021 priorities for improvement research, we know that road users want safer design and upkeep of roads, better management of unplanned delays and better information about unplanned disruption. Snow and icy conditions will test all of these issues, but we want to see accurate, useful information being shown on electronic road signs, on social media and websites.   

When people are stuck in queues for several hours, we want to see a high standard of road user welfare, to ensure that people are safe in below freezing temperatures and to consider those that have specific needs, for example those needing to take medication at the right time. 

For rail passengers, our extreme weather research shows that accurate information is important so that people can make informed decisions about their journey. Accurate and reliable information is just as important for bus, coach or tram passengers too. Nobody wants to be stood in the cold waiting and wondering if their bus is going to turn up.  

Passengers also want transport providers to be transparent and help them understand why timetable changes and service suspensions have been made. This is particularly important when it’s not just weather causing disruption, but also the substantial ongoing impact of strikes.  

All transport users need to prepare for travelling in snow and icy conditions, whether that is preparing their vehicles or carrying a winter kit in case of emergencies or checking if trains, trams or buses are running at all, or to the given (or altered) timetables. It is important that all transport providers have the latest information to hand and make it easily accessible. 

Over this winter period, Transport Focus will continue to press all transport providers to put users first, to keep them informed and to manage any incidents with helpful information and user welfare firmly at the centre of what they do. 

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