Transport for Wales and Network Rail - Joint Autumn Preparations 2019: Transport for Wales and Network Rail Logos

Wednesday 9 Oct 2019

Transport for Wales and Network Rail - Joint Autumn Preparations 2019

Region & Route:

Network Rail and Transport for Wales have been working together for over a year to keep passengers and customers moving this autumn.

Why do autumn conditions impact rail services?

  • Extreme weather events including storms
  • Steel rails get cold overnight, causing dew to form
  • Slippery rails caused by compressed leaves and debris, atmospheric conditions and a range of other factors
  • When rails are slippery trains may need to brake for longer or pull away more slowly than usual
  • With more trains than ever running on the Wales and Borders network, a small delay can have a huge knock on effect on passengers

What is the rail industry doing to prepare for autumn?

Fitting Wheel Slip Protection to the fleet

When rails are slippery, train wheels can ‘lock up’, causing them to slide on the track and resulting in a ‘flat’. Wheel slip protection works in a similar way to ABS in cars – preventing wheels from sliding. All class 150 units (which accounted for 45% of all wheel flats in 2018) are being fitted with wheel slip protection. A new sanding system is also being fitted to to improve wheel/ rail traction when a slide is detected.

Increased vegetation Management

Investment in vegetation management has more than doubled in the last five years. In the run-up to Autumn 2019, Network Rail is set to deliver in excess of 3.7m sqm of targeted vegetation management. This is an increase on 2018 when we delivered a record amount of vegetation management ahead of the autumn season.

Increased wheel maintenance

Wheel lathes are essential for repairing damaged wheels and maximising the availability of trains throughout autumn. The main wheel lathe is based at the Canton depot in Cardiff. It has received an investment of £120,000 for a complete overhaul ahead of this autumn - its first for 35-years.

A comprehensive railhead treatment programme

We have doubled railhead treatment overall since 2016 and are treating more sites in 2019 than 2018. Railhead treatment trains use high-pressure water to clear debris from the track and can lay adhesion enhancing compounds where appropriate. 65 strategically located traction gel applicators also help to mitigate low adhesion. 18 older traction gel applicators have been upgraded to improve reliability and effectiveness.

Frontline autumn response teams

We are increasing our frontline response capabilities by putting in place dedicated autumn response teams. They will carry out proactive railhead inspections at high risk sites and other strategic locations. They will be the primary frontline response for autumn related incidents, supporting recovery from incidents. They will also capture data including railhead swabs so that we can better understand the root causes of low adhesion.

Contact information

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

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Steven Crane-Jenkins
Media Relations Manager
Network Rail (Wales and Borders)
07732 643228

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.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 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: