Commuters are being warned to expect major disruption as temperatures plummet due to the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ winter storm.
A number of train firms have already begun reducing their services and the Met Office has issued a series of weather warnings throughout the week.
We’ll keep this story updated throughout the week with all the latest info on what’s happening and your rights. See our Snow Day – Your Employee and Travel Rights guide for full help.
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‘Coldest spell of weather since at least 2013 perhaps 1991’
The Met Office is forecasting snow and very cold weather for much of this week, with a Yellow National Severe Weather Warning in place for eastern England today, more widespread snow expected from tomorrow and further snow predicted on Thursday and Friday.
Met Office chief forecaster Frank Saunders said: “Parts of England and Wales are likely to see their coldest spell of weather since at least 2013 perhaps 1991.
“This will lead to dangerous conditions on roads and pavements and have an impact on people’s health. There is the potential for disruptive snowfall in many parts of the country throughout the week with the areas most at risk being eastern England and eastern Scotland. Transport disruption is likely in areas with significant snowfall.”
For up to date weather forecasts and warnings, regularly check the Met Office website.
Train services already cancelled – what are your rights?
A number of firms are already putting contingency plans in place, and are reducing services. Here’s the latest info as of 11.30am on Monday 26 February.
c2c A normal service until 9pm, with very limited service after that. It’s warning of further disruption on Tuesday. More info.
- Greater Anglia No services after 10pm tonight, and a reduced service, including some replacement buses, between 6am and 10pm on Tuesday and Thursday. More info.
- Great Northern An amended timetable has been put in place, passengers are warned to expect a heavily reduced service. More info.
- Southeastern Advising passengers to complete their journeys by 6pm tonight. It says it may need to put an emergency timetable in place this week. More info.
- Southern, Thameslink & Gatwick Express Disruption expected this afternoon and evening, and may continue for the rest of the week. More info.
- South Western Railway Some journeys may be disrupted. Check for more info.
- TfL Rail The last service will be 11pm tonight. On Tuesday services won’t start until 7am, and there will be only six trains an hour between Shenfield and London. More info.
If you’re due to travel, reguarly check your train company’s website for any warning and service disruptions.
If your train is cancelled you’ll be entitled to a full refund, and if it’s delayed by more than 15 minutes you may be entitled to compensation. See our Train Delays guide for more info.
What are my rights if my flight is delayed or cancelled?
When a flight is cancelled, however long before it was due to take off, and regardless of the cause, under EU rules you have a right to choose between:
- A full refund. This includes money back for both legs if you have booked a return ticket and either of your legs are cancelled.
- An alternative flight. If you still want to travel, your airline must find an alternative flight. Depending on the passenger’s preference, this has to be a) at the earliest opportunity, or b) at the passenger’s leisure, subject to the availability of seats.
If you choose to be re-routed or if your departure is delayed by more than two hours, airlines also have to provide assistance such as food, phone calls and accommodation where appropriate to passengers, regardless of what caused the cancellation.
Under EU rule 261/2004 it’s often possible to claim additional compensation of up to £530 per person for delayed or cancelled flights. However, this only applies when the delay or cancellation is due to something within the airline’s control – which wouldn’t usually include bad weather.
As a result, you’re unlikely to be able to claim compensation on top of your refund or alternative flight, though there are a few cases where you may wish to pursue a claim, for example if the snow was widely foreseeable and predicted. See our Flight Delays and Cancellations guide for full info.
What if I can’t get to work in the snow?
See our Snow Day – Employee Rights guide for full help. but in brief:
If I can’t get to work because of the snow, will my pay be docked? If your workplace is open and you can’t get in, your employer DOESN’T necessarily have to pay you, according to the conciliation service ACAS. So you may be forced to take unpaid leave.
The best thing is try to come to an alternative agreement with your employer, such as working from home or changing your hours. It’s also worth checking if your employer has an ‘adverse weather’ policy.
- Will I have to take it as holiday if I can’t get to work? If you can’t get to work because of disruption your employer can ask to you take time off as holiday, but the Government says it has to give you notice of at least twice as long as it wants you to take off. So if it wants you to take a day as holiday you’d need two days’ notice.
- Do I have to walk to work in the snow? It all depends on what’s reasonable. If you usually drive but can’t use your car in the snow and you are able to walk to work relatively easily you might want to do this instead.
- What if my child’s school is shut? If your child’s school is closed or your normal childcare arrangements are disrupted due to the snow, you may have the right to time-off to look after your child this should be agreed with your employer, according to Government advice.
ACAS says in emergency situations you can take unpaid leave to look after your child, and extreme weather may count as one of these situations.
Send us your snow rights questions…
Got a question about your consumer, travel or employee rights in the snow? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer them.