The wrong type of snow is a phrase coined by the British in after caused disruption to many of 's services. Despite common knowledge that , a British Rail press release implied that this fact was hitherto unknown to BR management and engineering staff. Henceforth in the United Kingdom, the phrase became a byword for and lame excuses.
The phrase originated in a comment by  which was swiftly taken up by the media and other papers. The cold snap had been forecast and British Rail had claimed to be ready for the coming snow. However, the snow – which was not deep enough for or to be effective – was unusually soft and powdery, finding its way into electrical systems and causing and damage. For traction motors with integral cooling fans and air intakes pointing downwards – the type that is still common on British – the problem was made worse as the air intakes sucked up the loose snow. Meanwhile, the snow also became packed into sliding door mechanisms and into , causing them to fail. In addition, low temperatures resulted in problems with electrical current collection from the third rail.'s Director of Operations Terry Worrall on 11 February 1991 that "we are having particular problems with the type of snow". This prompted a headline in the London saying 'British Rail blames the wrong type of snow'
Many electric services had to be replaced by haulage, and emergency were introduced. Long delays were commonplace – up to eight hours in some cases. The disruption lasted over a week.
The phrase "the wrong type of snow", "the wrong kind of snow" and variants appear periodically in British media reports concerning railway incidents brought on by adverse weather, with an intended polemic effect of instilling disbelief in the reader. During the , several trains broke down in the , trapping 2000 passengers in the dark; newspapers reported "wrong type of fluffy snow".
- Allan, Ian. Motive Power Monthly (May 1991) ISSN 0952-2867
- Hartley, Peter; Bruckmann, Clive G. (2002). Business Communication. Routledge. 0415195500.
- Gourvish, Terence (2002). British Rail, 1974-97: From Integration to Privatisation. 0199269092.
- ↑ Hartley & Bruckmann 2002, p. 1.
- ↑ Woodward, Antony, and Penn, Robert, The Wrong Kind of Snow, How the Weather Made Britain (2008), ISBN 9780340937884.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gourvish 2002, p. 274.
- ↑ Bird, Steve; Lindsay, Robert (21 December 2009). "Eurostar blames 'fluffy' snow for weekend chaos". London: The Times. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article6963830.ece. Retrieved 21 December 2009.