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Cold comfort award

East Coast has won a public relations award for its campaign to keep passengers informed via the media during the big freeze of 2010, when temperatures plummeted to as low as -20C on its network.

The company’s Communications Team was awarded the ‘Freshest Issue or Crisis Management’ prize at the prestigious Fresh Awards in Manchester.

Says East Coast Communications Director, Paul Emberley, ‘We are delighted to win this prestigious award, which recognises the speedy response and exceptional effort put in by East Coast’s communicators to get our message across that we were keeping Britain moving during the big freeze.

‘Within 90 minutes of the start of major disruption on the evening of Sunday 19 December, we were live on national television to explain alternative travel options, and when services resumed throughout the route, a live report on BBC1 from York station showed East Coast trains getting people home for Christmas in front of an audience of millions.’

The worst winter for 30 years saw temperatures plunge below minus 20 degrees C, affecting all transport, road, rail and air. Flights were grounded, passengers slept in airport departure lounges, and driving conditions were atrocious with many roads impassable.

Railways too were not immune, but fared better. Ice and snow damaged overhead power lines at two locations south of Peterborough, delaying services.

East Coast’s then Chairman, Elaine Holt, joined directors at London King’s Cross and Peterborough stations to explain what was being done to keep customers informed. Together with train and station staff teams worked together round the clock to get passengers safely to their destination.

East Coast managed an effective passenger communication exercise during the big freeze.

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