National Rail website buried ahead of snow storm

Desperate commuters look to sky and see red

Commuters desperate to avoid spending the night in a railway station or being eaten by their snow-bound fellow commuters were left none the wiser if they went to the National Rail website this afternoon.

The site, operated by the Association of Train Operating Companies, is a clearing house for train service information in the UK.

This afternoon, nervous commuters were greeted with a reassuring 503 error message as they wondered when to make a bolt from work, before a southwards moving band of snow hits the South East and completes the smothering of the entire UK under an icy blanket.

"The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later," the site cheerily told travellers facing the UK's worst Siberian onslaught since the Big Freeze of 2009.

Some lucky punters were left contemplating a "light" version of the website. We called National Rail for an explanation. Like many of its customers, we're still waiting.

The site's stumbling status comes 11 months after it fell over during the UK's last brush with winter. That time, most of the train operating companies' own websites also keeled over due to the chilly conditions.

This time at least some of them appear to be up and running. Southwest Trains are still keeping stockbroker belt-bound passengers up to speed on when their first class carriages will be departing, while Southern Railways' site is able to tell commuters how to escape Wandsworth Common.

Elsewhere, the Daily Mail reports that hysterical Britons had started panic buying food, which we presume means that Whole Foods in Kensington has run out of crayfish sandwiches.

There were also reports that Inverness had been cut off from the South, according to The Guardian.

But worse than all of that, the bad weather has even hit filming in that there Weatherfield, with a Coronation Street spokeswoman telling the Press Association that filming had been suspended due to heavy snow.

It's understood that other soaps including Channel 4's Hollyoaks, based in Liverpool, and ITV's Emmerdale, based in Leeds, have also been forced to halt filming due to bad weather conditions. ®

Sponsored: How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers