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Salt mountain in place as East End gets ready for ice and snow on roads

PUBLISHED: 20:11 22 December 2011

Council workers Dave Clementson, Emma Minshall and Saad Miah... ready for the cold snap

Council workers Dave Clementson, Emma Minshall and Saad Miah... ready for the cold snap

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A mountain of salt has been stockpiled ready to grit roads in London's East End if the Big Freeze comes.

Tower Hamlets has stockpiled 1,500 tonnes of industrial salt at its council depot in Blackwall.

Another 300 tonnes have been tucked away at its Bow Common transport depot next to the Limehouse Cut.

“Three times as much salt is stockpiled as last year,” a Town Hall spokeswoman told the Advertiser. “We base our decision on whether to grit roads and pavements on emails we receive every day from the Met Office.”

The authority’s street contractors have been ready since the end of October and continue on standby for emergency gritting right up till March.

Some local authorities have neighbourhood schemes where householders help keep pavements, roads and driveways clear of ice and snow, supplied with equipment like shovels, salt and grit.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of London has contingency plans with TfL, the City Corporation and all 32 London boroughs to keep transport and other services moving.

Roads and pavements get priority around bus garages, tube and rail stations, hospitals with A&E departments and police, fire and ambulance stations.

Boris Johnson doesn’t want a repeat of two years ago when buses couldn’t even get out of many garages because of ice—including Bow Garage in Fairfield Road where the 8 terminates.

TfL has stockpiled 22,000 tonnes of salt. It created a 27,000-tonne ‘salt reserve’ last year which is still untouched, ready to help out local authorities if needed.

A fleet of 40 gritters which can be fitted with ploughs are ready to keep main roads open, along with gritting quad-bikes, flatbed trucks and squads of grit-layers.

London Underground is using heaters to stop track points and signaling systems freezing up where lines run in the open. Trains might even run through the night if necessary to stop tracks icing over.

The new Metropolitan Line trains have an ‘ice’ mode which helps prevent them getting stuck, while the Central is taking measures to prevent compressed air systems freezing which make brake and sliding-door systems on trains defective.

And just in case commuters are hardy enough to try and bike it through any snow and ice, TfL is keeping its Cycle Hire scheme open.

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