Network Rail ready to tackle winter conditions on the South Western Railway route: Snow covered railway tracks

Wednesday 16 Jan 2019

Network Rail ready to tackle winter conditions on the South Western Railway route

Region & Route:
Southern: Wessex
| Southern

Network Rail’s seasonal fleet of ice-busting trains are rolling out across the South Western Railway route to help keep passengers moving during the cold weather.

Eight multi-purpose vehicles, based at Effingham Junction in Surrey and Totton in Hampshire, will travel 67,000 miles – more than two-and-a-half times around the world – up until the end of March.

They will spray anti-icing fluid to stop ice building up on the electrical conductor rails which power trains on the network. Special heating strips have also been installed on the conductor rail in high-risk areas.

Low temperatures can also cause points, the movable sections of track trains use to move from one line to another, to freeze up, preventing trains from accessing certain routes or platforms. Network Rail will use heaters on high-risk points and have installed NASA-grade insulation to keep them in working order.

South Western Railway will also be running ‘ghost’ trains at night, to help keep the tracks clear of snow and ice, and will be spraying external passenger doors with de-icer to stop them jamming.

David Dickson, chief operating officer for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said:

“We have been working hard with South Western Railway, and our other train operators, to prepare for cold weather on this route so we can keep our passengers moving when the temperature falls.

“Our fleet of multi-purpose vehicles will travel a huge distance – more than two-and-a-half times around the world - to reduce the impact of the weather on train services from London Waterloo and down to the south coast.

 “We will also have extra teams of people on the ground to respond to incidents and carry out regular inspections of our infrastructure throughout the winter period.”

A network of monitoring stations, and detailed forecasts, will also provide real-time weather data to inform local action plans during adverse weather. The forecasts cover not just the weather but how the conditions will impact on specific railway infrastructure such as the tracks and conductor rails.

 Alan Penlington, customer experience director for South Western Railway, said:

“We do everything we can to keep our customers moving during wintry weather including: monitoring and clearing stations overnight to ensure they are ready to open safely for the start of first services; running ‘ghost’ trains at night to clear the tracks of snow or ice; covering our train horns so they don’t freeze over; and spraying passenger doors with de-icer so they don’t jam and cause delays.

“We work with Network Rail round the clock to keep our trains moving but when extreme weather does hit our network, they can be subject to speed restrictions or short notice timetable revisions.”



Notes to Editors

For more information on how Network Rail keeps trains moving in snow and ice, visit:

For more information on South Western Railway's winter preparation, visit:

Delays explained – snow and ice:

For pictures of our cold weather vehicles and frontline workforce in action visit:

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - James Crook
Network Rail
07732 644202

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.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: