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Frost and ice

Falling temperatures can lead to frost and icy conditions that can cause issues for all modes of transport

Preventing frost and ice

Falling temperatures can lead to frost and icy conditions that can cause issues for all modes of transport. On the railway, ice build-up causes problems for moving parts like points, which move trains from one track to another, and can insulate the conductor rail – or ‘third rail’ – which prevents our trains drawing power. If this happens, it will not be safe for us to run services on affected routes.

To help prevent this, Network Rail deploys special trains fitted with de-icing fluid, snow ploughs, hot air blowers and steam jets to melt any ice. Teams work through the night to fit heating strips on rails and NASA-grade insulation on points to stop water freezing and jamming the mechanism, while protective covers keep out ice from passing trains.

Empty ‘ghost trains’ also run to help keep the tracks free of ice and some of our own passenger trains have equipment underneath to lay an anti-icing solution on to the track – but freezing overnight temperatures can still cause problems for peak services.

If the ground is icy underfoot, we advise you to check before you travel and to take extra care.

This winter, be sure to check before you travel. Up-to-date information about our services is available here, National Rail Enquiries, our On Track app and Twitter @Se_Railway.

Explore What winter weather means for our trains