Special trains used to keep lines open as temperatures plummet
Services were crippled in February and March last year due to a blast of snow and ice from the so-called Beast from the East.
A fleet of de-icing trains has been deployed to keep passenger services moving as freezing weather is forecast to hit parts of Britain.
Network Rail is using the trains to spray anti-icing fluid on lines serving some of the country’s busiest stations, including London Waterloo and London Victoria.
The public sector company hopes this will prevent ice building up on electrical conductor rails which power trains.
South Western Railway will run so-called ghost trains overnight to help keep tracks clear of snow and ice, and will spray train doors with de-icer to stop them jamming.
Services were crippled during February and March last year due to a blast of snow and ice from the so-called Beast from the East.
This contributed to punctuality reaching a 13-year low in 2018.
When conditions are very serious, trains might have to slow down Network Rail
The rail industry’s strategy for this winter includes using 10 snow and ice treatment trains with devices such as hot air blowers, steam jets and brushes, and a dozen snowplough locomotives for clearing deep snow.
Passenger trains can also fitted with snowploughs which can clear up to 8in (20cm) of snow.
Low temperatures can cause points – the movable sections of track which trains use to move from one line to another – to freeze up and block certain routes or platforms from being used.
Heaters and Nasa-grade insulation has been added to high-risk points to keep them working.
Network Rail uses a helicopter with thermal imaging cameras to identify heaters which are not working effectively.
The firm’s managing director of strategic operations, Andy Thomas, said: “We work closely with train operators to minimise any impact on passenger services during winter weather such as snow and ice.
“We have extra teams of people on the ground to respond to incidents and carry out regular inspections of our infrastructure.
“When conditions are very serious, trains might have to slow down, just as a car would on a road. This is so everyone can get where they need to go safely.”