Brits have a funny relationship with snow. We like the idea of buildings dusted in white, like in Dickensian images. But we hate it if it impacts our travel plans.
British trains are infamous for cancellations and delays in even the lightest snowfall. Critics complain that trains in Canada and Russia can cope with walls of snow, and Britain should seek to emulate them.
Here's my response to these moaners: Get a grip!
I understand it's frustrating if you're delayed or can't get to work or social events because of the snow. I've experienced this myself. But it isn't feasible to invest in the technology to make our rail system like those in Canada or Russia. According to the Met Office, the UK only experiences on average 16.5 days a year when snow settles on the ground. That's not exactly Siberia.
Snow on Regent Street, London
The Department for Transport has made some investments to help. Last December, it announced £16m funding to heat the 400 sites on the network that suffer most in freezing conditions. Critics say spending like this is not enough, because delayed journeys in severe wintry weather cost businesses and travellers in England around £280m a day. That's a fair point.
However, it doesn't justify turning Britain's rail system into The Polar Express. On very snowy days we should focus on getting people to be able to work from home, without commuting into the office.
In other words, rather than prepare our transit system for infrequent weather events, the government must make good on its £530m commitment to deploy faster broadband in rural areas by 2015. Last month, broadband minister Ed Vaizey conceded it is "a challenging target," but it potentially has huge economic benefits in times when people cannot get to their workplace.
Businesses must invest in secure systems that make it easier for staff to access work networks at home. These sorts of systems are becoming more advanced and more common. If people can access the work network at home then there's no need for them to go to work on snowy days, particularly with mobile phones and tablet computers. They'd get more done at home than they would stuck on a delayed train in the middle of Nowhereville.
Train operators could also improve systems to inform commuters about delays. Some information can be accessed online, but there must be smarter solutions. For example, if a rail company knows that I make a journey to London every day, it should be able to send an automatic update to my phone on days where trains are delayed or cancelled. Then I could judge in advance if it's even worth leaving the house.
These are all smart solutions that mean we don't have to throw more money at the railways. Our rail fares are already the highest in Europe, so travellers won't stomach huge rises to ticket prices to pay for a snow-proofed rail system that is only useful on the few days a year it actually snows. By contrast, the ideas above help people work smarter and more flexibly all year round.
In the meantime, here's the bottom line: When it snows, there will be delays. The farther away you choose to live from your workplace, the more you'll be delayed. That's the deal. Now stop complaining about it on Twitter.
— Rich Heap, Correspondent, Property Week