Preparations made to deal with Autumn weather track problems

Transport for Wales and Network Rail are utilising the latest technology this autumn to prepare for a growing number of storms and bad weather caused by climate change.

Shrewsbury Railway Station
Shrewsbury Railway Station

Autumn is traditionally a very challenging time for the rail industry and in 2020 storms Ellen, Francis and Alex caused widespread disruption and included the wettest day on record since 1891.

Lee Waters, Welsh Assembly Deputy Minister for Climate Change, said: “Climate Change is having a very real impact on the weather as we’ve seen with the unprecedented storms of the last few years, so I am pleased that TfW working with Network Rail are taking these measures, using the most up to date technology, to deal with the impact of severe weather on our rail network as we head into the autumn.”

High risk sites for problems have been identified using Automated Intelligent Video Review footage on the front of trains.

Special railhead treatment trains will blast away vegetation debris from tracks and traction gel will be used in sites where vegetation can cause low wheel-rail friction levels.

This year there will be 57 Traction Gel Applicators in use.

Transport for Wales Director for Planning and Performance, Colin Lea, said: “The autumn season presents significant challenges to the rail industry, and we work hard throughout the year preparing.

“Working within Covid guidelines and closely with Network Rail and valley lines maintenance colleagues, we have cleared concerning lineside vegetation, arranged rail treatment train runs and removed the old ‘Pacer’ trains, which were our most vulnerable trains when it came to adhesion-related issues at this time of year.

“Our staff will continue to work around the clock over the autumn period, and beyond, in some very testing environments to keep our customers on the move, with their safety at the heart of everything we do.”

Bill Kelly, route director at Network Rail Wales and Borders said: “This year, we’ve doubled the size of our autumn control team to improve our response to incidents.

“With climate change increasingly affecting the transport network,we’re investing in schemes across Wales and Borders to build a more resilient railway.”

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