Monday 25 Jan 2021
Helicopter surveys keep Wolverhampton and Tamworth stations' big freezes at bay
Thermal imaging cameras mounted to a Network Rail helicopter are keeping passengers and freight moving after heavy snowfall across the West Midlands.
Although sub-zero temperatures caused heavy snow to fall and ice to form on tracks this weekend, much of the railway has been operating as normal.
This is helped by the Network Rail Air Operations team, which is today (Monday 25 January) carrying out sky-high inspections of the West Coast main line and key rail routes in the West Midlands.
The impressive aerial photos taken on the flight over Wolverhampton station, and also Tamworth station in Staffordshire, are to check that points - the equipment which allows trains to move tracks – do not become frozen and stop working.
In each set of points the steel rails are heated to stop this from happening. If the heaters are working properly the points should glow bright white in the thermal pictures – if they appear dark the helicopter team raises the alarm to engineers on the ground for them to fix.
Dave Penney, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “With the West Midlands under a blanket of snow the Network Rail Air Operations team has been inspecting the railway from the sky today to help keep passengers and freight moving.
"Key sections of track are fitted with heaters and insulation to help stop them freezing. Thermal imaging cameras attached to a helicopter have been checking the heaters are working.
"Anything reported to us from the skies can then be looked at straight away by the extra teams of people on the ground and fixed as quickly as possible."
With the cold weather continuing, passengers who still need to travel by train during this period of national lockdown are being advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest updates.
Notes to Editors
- For more information on the Network Rail Air Operations team visit - https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/our-fleet-machines-and-vehicles/air-operations/
- For more information on how we keep trains moving in snow and ice visit - https://www.networkrail.co.uk/feeds/keeping-trains-moving-snow-ice/
- Delays explained – snow and ice: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/snow-and-ice/
- For pictures of our cold weather vehicles and frontline workforce in action visit - https://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/resources?SearchString=snow
Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41
Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries
Network Rail press office - North West & Central Region
0330 854 0100
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.