SCOTLAND takes the weather seriously.
So seriously that we have a dedicated team of professionals who have just one job — thinking about how to cope with the weather and the problems it brings.
The National Centre for Resilience is a “centre for excellence” focusing on natural hazards like flooding, landslides, climate change and severe conditions.
Yesterday it was SHUT due to the snow. And that pretty much sums things up.
With the country brought to its knees by a blizzard, shops closed, workplaces crippled by a lack of staff and transport links frozen solid, people are asking again why we find it so difficult to cope with a bit of snow.
Across Switzerland’s 29,000 kilometres of railway there were six services suffering “disruption” due to bad weather and only four cancellations — in the middle of the Alps. There were half a dozen other service disruptions but they were due to repair works.
Even in the midst of an Alpine winter, they are fixing the railways.
Do you think our navvies were out in the snow yesterday, taking advantage of a total shutdown in rail services to do a bit of tinkering?
Or will they wait until the height of rush hour in the middle of the working week to go out and change a light bulb?
All over the world, from Norway to Canada, children would laugh at the kind of snow we had this week and drive off happily to school.
But, somehow, we can’t manage.
Despite the resilience centre — which includes experts from the Met Office, Glasgow and Edinburgh Unis and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency — based at Crichton Campus in Dumfries.
And despite the reckless antics of HGV drivers who defiantly ignored “Do Not Drive” warnings to clog up the M80 and ruin the whole day and night for dozens of motorists — maybe because we are so good at moving stuff.
Malory Davies, Fellow, from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, said: “We are brilliant at logistics in this country — probably the best in the world.
“The problem is we are so reliant on logistics to move stuff quickly that we don’t hold big stocks and, when you do get a very, very rare red weather warning, it quickly stops things moving.”
So why can’t we cope when things clog up? Mr Davies explained: “In Norway and Canada they have this weather every winter — we don’t.
“To keep the roads and rails clear, you’d need more manpower, more equipment and more weather-proofing of equipment.
But it would principally be stuff to keep the roads clear and manpower to operate it.
“Do you invest millions of pounds for weather like this? Most people would think it’s a waste of money.”
Every train in Scotland in the affected red zone, and scores more where there was a lesser amber alert, was cancelled due to the bad weather.
There are a few things we could do to keep trains running smoothly — like firing ScotRail’s board.
That aside, investment in equipment would include weather-proofing trains, protecting brakes and preventing doors freezing solid.
It would also need changes to the rails, like electric heaters at track switching points.
But the bad weather isn’t all bad news for train companies.
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Even one minute of delay where the track is unusable due to the conditions means Network Rail have to pay compensation to train companies.
The fines come out of public funds. Last year the firm made compo payments worth £181million but passed on only £74million to delayed passengers.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
How’s this for a hound saver then?
AMERICAN Melissa Moore proved a bit of a wag after roping in the help of her pet husky on a trip out during the whiteout.
Melissa, originally from California, was kitted out in full skiing gear as her pooch Skye powered through the powder in Partick, Glasgow.
Neighbour Daniel Mulvey filmed the stunt and shared it on Facebook.
He said: “I went round to the shop and there she was getting pulled along.
“I couldn’t see anything then she just whizzes past me.”
Meanwhile, nearby Partickhill Road became an unofficial winter sports slope.
Punters careered down the steep hill on snowboards and skis as the city came to a standstill.
While drivers ditched their snow-caked motors others made the most of the whiteout conditions.
One reveller kitted out in a red helmet looked like he’d just got back from Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
One onlooker said: “Britain’s medal haul wasn’t great but if it stays like this we could be topping the table in 2022.”
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