Winter service launch 20/21

Winter 2021 3

A record number of gritters will be available to patrol the trunk road network this winter to help keep Scotland moving.

The winter service fleet will now feature 230 gritters operating from over 40 depots around the trunk road network, as well as incident response vehicles, and includes an enhanced patrol provision around parts of the network.

We continue to make improvements to the wider winter service, building on lessons learned during previous winter periods. They include:

  • Installation of sensors on the Queensferry Crossing, as part of a number of measures to improve the detection and management of ice accretion.
  • Installation of Motorway Access Control units on the M80 to advise road users of restrictions and closures.
  • The on-going live trials of 50:50 pre-wetted salt treatments are being moved to the M8 to utilise the latest combination spreader from Germany.
  • Further development of our winter service on-road testing facility, which involves a range of innovative weather stations and sensors on the trunk road network.
  • The use of specialist footway spreaders to improve accessibility around parts of the trunk road network.
  • Continued trial of the world’s first all-electric spreader to undertake patrols on the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge.

The expanded fleet comes as a result of the new management contracts and will help enhance our response to snow events, with a particular focus on vulnerable locations. We have refined our route-specific snow plans for the M8, M74, M77 and M80, with the help of our operating companies and Police Scotland, and salt barns across the country currently hold more salt than was used during the entire winter of 19/20.

We also carried out our annual snow desk exercises with partner agencies in late October to test winter service operations over a period of severe winter weather within an on-going COVID-19 environment.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

“Our teams always look to learn lessons from previous winters and have once again worked hard throughout the year to ensure we are well prepared for when the worst of the weather arrives.

“This ranges from the use of new technology, like ice accretion sensors and motorway access units, to trialling new treatments and adding more gritters to our fleet.

“Transport Scotland will continue to work closely with key partners like Police Scotland and the Met Office throughout the winter to ensure we respond quickly and effectively to weather events on the trunk road network.

“It’s also important that motorists prepare for winter, and there are plenty of sources of information that will help them plan ahead. Traffic Scotland provides the most up-to-date information on the trunk road network from its mobile site – – as well its twitter page @trafficscotland and internet radio broadcasts. You can also follow treatment and patrols on their gritter tracker. 

“We can’t always predict the weather but we can put plans in place to help keep Scotland moving when the winter conditions move in.”

Police Scotland have staff based at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre in South Queensferry and we have a dedicated Met Office advisor to ensure the key partner agencies work closely and effectively during the winter period.

Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock said:

“Keeping people safe on our roads is a priority for us throughout the year however, as we head into the winter months it is important to ensure vehicles and drivers are  prepared for the change in road conditions. 

“I would encourage drivers to check their vehicles before we experience the first of the wintry conditions.  Some simple steps can be taken to prepare such as checking lights on vehicles to make sure they are in good working order, ensure tyres have sufficient tread, check windscreen washer fluid levels and look out scrapers for clearing frost and ice from your vehicle.”

Ian Cameron from the Met Office, said:

“The Coronavirus pandemic brings additional challenges this winter and we will need to be even better prepared if we are to reduce the impact of severe weather and tackle the challenges it presents. Our meteorologists and advisors will continue to work closely with Transport Scotland over the coming months to deliver key weather information and advice to keep Scotland moving through the winter season.

“Adverse winter weather such as strong winds, heavy rain or snow can cause disruption to travel and transport services. We encourage people to check the latest Met Office weather forecast and warnings before they set off on journeys over the coming months, including our bespoke Scotland forecast, so they are better prepared for the weather this winter may bring.”

Find out more about how we keep Scotland moving over winter.

Published 3 Nov 2020