Network Rail ready to beat the next big freeze

Network Rail has revealed a range of new measures it is introducing this winter to help Scotland’s railway beat the worst of the weather.

The company is investing heavily in new technology and equipment that will help keep rail lines open and trains on the move.

The announcement comes as Transport Minister Keith Brown visits the company’s Glasgow base today to meet the Network Rail and ScotRail teams responsible for the day-to-day running of rail services.

David Simpson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, said: “We are working closely with our industry partners and the government to make sure we deliver as robust a service as possible this winter.

“We are also introducing a wide range of new equipment and working methods after reviewing how the severe, prolonged snowfalls of last year affected the railway. We are confident that the Scottish rail network will be as well prepared as possible for another severe winter.”

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Keith Brown, Minister for Housing and Transport, added: “Thinking ahead and being prepared for winter at home, on transport networks and within local communities is something everyone can do easily. That is why we welcome Network Rail’s efforts to prepare for the coming winter though recognising that we must all continue to be vigilant throughout the winter months.

“Following ScotRail’s recent announcement about their £2 million investment in winter resilience measures, together with our partners we are working hard to minimise disruption on Scotland’s railways. We are also ensuring we can get people back on the move as quickly as possible when it does occur.”

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: “We are working closely with Network Rail to be better prepared this winter.”

The initiatives revealed today include a new £1m winter-weather engineering train – which can be used to defrost key junctions during periods of prolonged sub-zero temperatures and to transport engineers and equipment quickly around the rail network when roads are closed.

The company will also be using a helicopter to thermal image the network to identify spots where severe weather could take hold and more off-road vehicles are being made available to the company’s engineers.

This winter will also see the launch of new on-track technologies designed to keep the railway infrastructure, and points* in particular, free of ice and snow, including:

  Trialling a new system of insulating points heater strips which will help them work for longer in the worst of the winter weather
  Fitting snow displacers at selected points to stop snow building up between the point ends and blocking the points
  Reducing the ballast depth beneath sets of points to prevent the metal components sticking to the stones below during periods of prolonged sub-zero temperatures
  Using NASA-grade insulation material currently used on space suits to insulate the inside of points machines to help prevent water building up or freezing inside them
  Installing current monitors at various sets of points to check changes in power and warn when points are starting to fail

The company’s fleet of 10 Scottish-based snow clearing trains will also be in full operation throughout the winter and teams of engineers will work around-the-clock through any severe weather to man key pieces of infrastructure.

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