Families forced to cancel weekend plans as oil crisis continues to hamper travel
Drivers canceled their plans and were forced to travel for hours on buses and trains over the weekend in an attempt to save gas.
As the current fuel supply crisis, which has created queues and chaos at gas stations, enters its sixth day in a row, a woman in London said she had to take a bus and two trains to visit her mother in Bristol this weekend because she had to reserve fuel to get to work next week.
Kim Foxwell, 33, lives in Raynes Park in South West London and works at Imperial College in South Kensington.
Kim said I that she took her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter to visit her mother in Bristol on Friday evening, a trip she would normally make by car.
She said: “Mom normally comes to see us once a month or every six weeks, but this time we decided to go see her just in case she gets stuck for gas once here. But since I only have half a tank left, I had to get to her house by public transport.
Kim had to take a bus from where she lives to the station, take a train to Wimbledon, get to Paddington by tube, and from there take a train to Bristol Parkway, where her mother picked her up with his daughter Serephina – a trip that lasted three and a half hours.
Kim said: “When I drive, it takes about two hours and 20 minutes, and I have the option to stop at services if I need a break. On a crowded commuter train, with a small child and luggage, it is not ideal!
She also had to postpone a blood test she was due to undergo on Saturday morning because she had booked her train tickets in advance and was unable to change them.
She added: “My husband stayed home and I really hope he can buy gas this weekend because I only have enough to last until Tuesday.
“I am back from Bristol on Sunday evening, but driving to go to work because my daughter is in the middle school nursery. If I can’t fill out, then I’ll have to get on the metro on Monday morning, which with a toddler in rush hour isn’t great!
“I think this is a London problem because mum has not had a problem getting gasoline in Bristol. I have a Tesco and an Esso near me and they run out quickly and I walk past at least two gas stations a day that run out every time.
But people outside the M25 are also cautious.
Matt Stocker, 47, from Market Deeping in Lincolnshire canceled his attendance at a festival this weekend due to the current crisis.
Talk to Ihe said: “We were supposed to go to the Kubix Festival in Sunderland today, it has already been revamped twice because of the pandemic.
“We were in Northampton last night and were going to continue from there, but with the fuel situation and now the weather, we figured it out better. We managed to refuel once we got home to Market Deeping, but our local garage only has super unleaded.
Matt is also concerned about his partner Marie who has to be in Newcastle on Monday for work.
He said: “She was there last Monday and managed to refuel before she left, but had to refuel while she was there to make sure she could get home so it’s a bit of a gamble.
“She’s self-employed so if she doesn’t go she doesn’t get paid and if she gets caught and has to stay an extra night that she has to pay for, so it’s not ideal.
“It’s also expensive on the train unless you pre-book in advance, but Marie can’t do it in case the job is canceled or postponed.”
From Monday, military drivers will be deployed to deliver fuel to the forecourt.
Nearly 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, have trained at transport sites and will begin deliveries to help ease the situation at gas stations, which ministers say is stabilizing.
The government also announced that a temporary visa regime for nearly 5,000 foreign food transport drivers, which was due to expire on December 24, will be extended until the end of February, following criticism of its appeal to drivers.
The president of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) warned that fuel shortages were worsening in parts of the country.
Brian Madderson told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “In London and the South East and maybe parts of East England, if anything got worse.”
Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement of the deployment of military drivers from Monday, but warned it would only have a limited impact.
“It will not be the major panacea,” he said. “It’s a big help, but in terms of volume, they won’t be able to carry that much.
“We need a prioritization of deliveries to gas stations – especially the independent neighborhood retail locations – in London and the South East now.”