Reducing the £1 billion cost of winter disruption: Review recommends measures to improve salt supplies

An independent review of how our transport systems coped with the last two winters has today recommended measures to get national Government, local councils, transport providers and the public in England ready for future winter weather.

The Review Panel, commissioned by transport ministers and chaired by transport expert David Quarmby, makes 11 recommendations in its Final Report covering the rail and aviation sectors, the supply chain for road salt, and wider issues for the whole transport sector.  These follow 17 recommendations made in the Interim Report in July, which focussed on roads and coping with the next winter.  Key findings and recommendations in the Final Report are:

Speaking about the Final Report of the Review, David Quarmby said:

“The weather of the last two winters was exceptionally severe, yet in most respects local authorities and the transport industry rose to the massive challenge.  In 2009/10 in particular – the most severe winter for 30 years – transport networks across the country were disrupted.  But recovery – particularly on the trunk road network, the national rail routes and aviation routes – was relatively swift.  However, there are still lessons to be learned and improvements to be made.  The salt supply chain for highway authorities must be made more resilient, with local authorities increasing their precautionary salt stocks and suppliers responding more flexibly to demand, and the rail industry can further enhance its service reliability in bad weather.  Two key messages for all highway authorities and transport operators are:

 to co-operate in planning for severe weather, so that there is a cohesive transport system for the public even if it is a reduced one – for example, that the route to the rail station, or the link to the motorway and the port, is a priority for gritting, and boundary issues - “who grits the bus station?” - are sorted out well in advance;

and in severe weather events, to fully utilise the latest technologies and media to keep road and transport users well informed with timely and accurate information.”

Following the recommendation in our Interim Report in July, we are delighted that today the government is publishing the ‘Snow Code’ to guide the public on clearing footpaths and guard them against negligence claims.”

The Review’s Final Report follows the publication of the Review’s Interim Report on 26th July which made 17 recommendations on highway authorities’ winter maintenance, the road salt supply chain, public expectations, weather forecasting and self-help by the public, and focused particularly on the need to keep our road network moving in the event of snow and ice next winter.

The Panel were also pleased to note that the Highways Agency is also well underway in completing their recommendation to procure a quarter of a million tonnes of road salt to be held as a strategic reserve.

Notes for editors

  1. David Quarmby CBE, Brian Smith and Chris Green were asked by the then Secretary of State for Transport, in March 2010 to review the winter resilience of England’s roads and transport systems, based on the experience of the winters of 2008/09 and 2009/10, and to make recommendations to improve resilience for the future:

  2. The Terms of Reference for the Review can be found at:

  3. The Final and Interim Reports are available at:

  4. The three members of the Panel who conducted the Review were:
    • David Quarmby CBE, Chair, currently chairman of the RAC Foundation, a former director of consultants Colin Buchanan and former chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority;
    • Brian Smith, recently retired as Executive Director, Environment Services of Cambridgeshire County Council, and former President of what is now ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport);
    • Chris Green, a career railwayman whose last executive appointment was as CEO of Virgin Trains and who was co-author of the recent Better Rail Stations independent review.
  5. The Review took evidence from a wide variety of sources, face-to-face and in writing, including salt suppliers, local authority representatives, national Government, the Highways Agency, weather forecasters, and in the second part of the review from aviation and rail organisations. All the evidence submitted to the Panel has now been made available on their website.

  6. Press enquiries should be directed to 020 7944 2770 (07979 817243).