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Last updated: 05:12

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Delays explained further

We hate announcing delays as much as you hate hearing them, but sometimes things don’t work out to plan.
If you’re confused by the odd reasons given for delays then read on for more information. Get insights into the problems caused and how we’re working closely with Network Rail to minimise them.

Times are changing

Leaf it to us

We're making some small changes to our timetable this autumn to keep trains running on time. Each autumn, approximately 50 million leaves fall onto our train tracks, meaning our drivers need more time to stop and start the trains as the wheels have less grip on the tracks. You can learn more here about what we're doing to keep our services moving, you won't beleaf it.
breaking the ice

As temperatures drop and nights draw in, so too come cosy evenings by the fire and the twinkling of festive lights in trees and windows across the country.

But as we head further into the season and the weather takes a turn, problems can arise across the rail network.

When the mercury plummets, even the lightest shower of rain or dusting of snow can freeze and become compacted on the rails, insulating the electric rail and preventing trains from drawing power or being able to move with any speed. And in the worst cases, it prevents them from being able to move at all.

Snow and ice also causes points – which allow trains to move between tracks – to freeze solid, or get jammed with compacted snow. When this happens, trains can’t safely run over them.

The couplers that join carriages together can also become iced up, making it difficult to join them together, or split them apart, and reducing the number of trains we have available.

But we know you’ve got places to go.

We’re on the case

  • Running snow-and-ice-busting trains around the clock when winter weather strikes which are fitted with anti-icing fluid to stop the electric rail freezing up, adhesion gel for the rails for wheel grip, and snow ploughs when weather is severe
  • Fitting points which are most likely to freeze with heaters and NASA-grade insulation to prevent ice forming and them sticking in place
  • Applying heating strips on those electric rails most likely to freeze
  • Running empty ‘ghost trains’ overnight to keep tracks and overhead cables free of snow and ice
  • Changing to a Severe Winter Weather Timetable to keep trains running
  • And station teams are ready to go with gritting and snow-clearing

Find out more about winter weather

Improvement works

Engineering projects, improvement works, do genuinely make our trains more reliable, and allow us to have more trains and faster services on the network.
Our trains run on 20,000 miles of tracks managed and maintained by Network Rail. Improvement work on our network is carefully planned up to two years in advance, and we do everything we can to minimise disruption. This is why most improvement work is done at night, at weekends and over public holidays. Occasionally, however, they do over-run.

Points failure

A points failure means that one of the sections of track at a junction that lets trains move from one line to another has broken. 
These points can get clogged up with dirt, leaves, branches and other debris. They can also expand when it’s very hot. Network Rail manages the infrastructure our trains run on and is doing a number of things to make the points on our route more reliable including:
  • Monitoring them remotely
  • Introducing new designs for points and their components
  • Painting some points white so they absorb less heat

Fixing things fast and getting compensation

We work with Network Rail to try to reduce disruption, and fix things as quickly as possible when things go wrong. 
But if you have been delayed by more than 15 minutes, you can claim Delay Repay compensation.
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