Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Monday, 14 March 2011

Transport Committee

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has defended the government's response to the disruption caused by severe wintry weather in December 2010.

Giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee on 14 March 2011, he described the weather as "exceptionally severe" and that "any transport system would have been put to the test".

The Met Office confirmed that it was the coldest month since records began 100 years ago.

Trains between London and the South East of England were particularly affected with the third rail system being iced over.

Mr Hammond told MPs that there was a possibility of a roll-out of a heated third rail system, describing it as "particularly vulnerable".

He said that independent advisers had said there was no need to prepare for regular long periods of heavy snow fall in the future, but conceded there may still be severe events.

The committee was told that the government was preparing a new "regulatory regime" for airports, following severe disruption at airports including Heathrow and Gatwick.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled or disrupted as the runways became snow-bound.

He faced questions by Labour's Julie Hilling on the gritting of minor and residential roads and responded by saying that it was an issue for local authorities.

He told Ms Hilling that he was keen for more "self-help" by communities.

Transport committee membership

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