Tuesday 1 Jun 2021
Float-away helium party balloon delays trains to Liverpool
A helium balloon has caused delays to rail passengers after it got tangled in 25,000-volt overhead electric cables which power trains on Merseyside.
It's prompted Network Rail to issue a safety plea to the public to not let helium balloons loose near the railway.
The foil balloon got caught on the high-voltage overhead wires in Prescot today (Tuesday 1 June) causing delays to three trains between St Helens and Liverpool Lime Street.
Engineers had to close the line and switch off the electricity that powers trains to and from the Liverpool City Region, so the balloon could be safely removed.
Phil James, Network Rail's North West route director, said: “While Helium-filled balloons are fun, they pose a real safety and performance risk to the railway.
“Our advice is not let them loose outside, especially if you’re near the railway. Leave them indoors away from high-voltage equipment so we can keep trains running on time.”
Helium-filled balloons causes dozens of train delays for passengers across Britain each year.
Network Rail recorded more than 600 balloon-related incidents across England, Scotland and Wales over the last ten years.
For more information about how overhead electric lines work visit networkrail.co.uk/overhead-line-equipment.
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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.