Record gas emergencies

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The Independent Online

An "unprecedented" 152,000 gas emergencies were reported over Christmas and New Year, 50 per cent higher than expected due to the cold snap.

National Grid, which runs the National Gas Emergency Service Hotline for all the companies that operate the UK's transmission networks, was anticipating only 100,000 calls between 20 December and 4 January. However, the freezing weather increased the number of gas leaks and the amount of infrastructure that was damaged.

About 75 per cent of the calls required engineers to fix the problem. The high call-out forced National Grid, which runs the biggest chunk of the distribution network, to hire extra engineers to tackle the backlog. A spokeswoman for Leeds-based Northern Gas Networks said it had also "drafted in extra resources".

British Gas fixed 100,000 boilers between 20 and 24 December and paid a £100 bonus to engineers who worked on Christmas Eve.