Light Rail & Tram systems do not stop for snow!

From Thursday 17 December 2009 to Friday 15 January 2010 the United Kingdom experienced a spell of very low temperatures and significant snowfalls which affected almost the whole country. This was the most widespread and prolonged spell of this type across the UK since December 1981/January 1982. Large areas of England, Wales and Northern Ireland regularly saw night-time temperatures falling well below freezing, and on occasion below -10 °C, while in Scotland night-time temperatures in the Highland glens regularly fell to -15 °C or lower. Daytime temperatures in many areas frequently struggled to rise above freezing, often remaining several degrees below.

The freezing temperatures were accompanied by widespread snowfalls on many days throughout the period. With daytime temperatures often failing to rise above freezing, little thawing occurred so fresh snowfalls added to previous accumulations. Depths of 10 to 20 cm were widespread across England and Wales, whilst across upland areas of northern England and in the Scottish Highlands, depths exceeded 30 cm in many areas.

The snowfalls and widespread freezing conditions caused very significant disruption across the United Kingdom through this period. Transport was particularly badly affected with snowfalls causing numerous road closures, and train and flight cancellations.

The British transport system, is not usually noted for coping with winter snowfall and with that in mind the Light Rapid Transit Forum [LRTF] recorded UK Light Rail systems operating faultlessly over the month:-

 Nottingham Express Transit

Manchester Metrolink

Sheffield Supertram

There are many lessons that Transit advocates and planners in BC could learn from Europe; the challenges of designing and planning systems that will operate in reliably in all conditions. The imperative is for implementing solutions to reduce human-caused additions to greenhouse gases and slow down the rate of climate change.


3 Responses to “Light Rail & Tram systems do not stop for snow!”
  1. Justin Bernard says:

    Seattle’s Link Light Rail system operated flawlessly during the recent snow storm.

  2. David says:

    As did “Skytrain” (Expo and Millennium), the new Canada line, apparently not so much…. though to be fair, Thursday was their first real ‘snow’ day; let’s see how they handle the next storm….

  3. zweisystem says:

    But this wasn’t really a real snow. The RAV/Canada Line is a conventional railway and as such less than 10 cm of snow should not affect service. As the temp. was well below freezing for at least 5 days prior to the fiasco, there should have been no build up of ice at all. I suspect something else cause the days chaos.

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