We know you've got places to go
During winter, there’s nothing like the breathtaking sight of a thick blanket of sparkling snow when you pull your curtains open. But as the weather takes a turn, problems can arise across the rail network.
When the temperature drops, even the lightest shower of rain or dusting of snow can freeze and become compacted on the rails, turning into dangerous ice.
Not only does this freeze around the electric rail and create an insulating effect preventing trains from drawing power and being able to move with any speed – in the worst cases, it stops them from being able to move at all.
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 and snow ploughs when weather is severe.
- Fitting points which are most likely to freeze with heaters and 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 Winter Weather or Severe Winter Weather Timetable to keep trains running.
- And station teams are ready to go with gritting and snow-clearing.
Times are changing
On days when we expect the weather to be at its worst, Network Rail instruct us to put in place either a Winter Weather Timetable, or Severe Winter Weather Timetable depending on the weather forecast. These are short-term timetable changes and different to the usual timetable change in December.
On rare days when weather is forecast to be extremely bad with roads and rails impassable, there will be no train service running, but together with Network Rail we will do all we can to avoid this situation to clear tracks and keep trains moving.
Click below to find out more about the timetables that will run during forecasted winter weather.
The science bit
Although the long, warm days of summer may feel like a distant memory, the arrival of winter needn’t be a bad thing. 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, turning into dangerous ice. Not only does this freeze around the electric rail and create an insulating effect preventing trains from drawing power and being able to move with any speed – 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.
When winter weather strikes we run snow-and-ice-busting trains round the clock to keep you moving. These special trains are kitted out with anti-icing fluid, which works in a similar way to salt gritters on the road, preventing our electric rail from freezing in the first place.
We also fit certain points along the tracks, particularly in places where trains change direction to other lines, with heaters and insulation to further prevent ice build-up.
To try to keep disruptions to your journeys to a minimum, we may have to make some changes to our timetables when bad weather hits. Some services will be less frequent, and some stations may close, but this allows us to complete all the work needed to keep you moving, albeit a little slower than usual to keep you and our staff as safe as possible.