Rail industry asks public to help keep services on track this winter
1 November 2012
Network Rail and ScotRail are calling on lineside neighbours to ‘do their bit' to keep Scotland's railway running this winter.
Garden sheds and furniture, trampolines - and even sections of roof - were all blown onto the railway during storms last December and January, blocking lines, damaging equipment and disrupting services.
Both organisations said they are even better prepared this year, and today asked those who live beside railway lines: Are you?
Launching an awareness campaign, they encouraged residents to make sure anything that could be blown onto tracks is fully secured or removed in advance of severe weather.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
"We are working with Network Rail and ScotRail to ensure that we are fully prepared for the impact of any severe weather this winter.
"The industry is working more closely than ever before to get ready for the winter months and decisive action has been taken to improve the network infrastructure, I am also heartened that teams have already been out in force to take preventative action.
"Passengers will be pleased to know about the new ‘real time' travel updates, the significant levels of investment in pioneering de-icing equipment and improved station access."
David Simpson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, said: "We carry out extensive preparations for winter - including felling trees, improving drainage and strengthening earthworks - to try to limit the impact of the weather on our infrastructure.
"However, objects blown onto the railway from private homes are becoming an increasingly common problem - especially last winter when Scotland was battered by hurricane force winds.
"We're asking those who live near the railway to consider what they can do to secure their property and help reduce the amount of debris being blown onto the lines."
Network Rail and ScotRail have put in place a range of measures that will help keep rail lines open and trains on the move over the winter.
Out on the tracks, teams have been working to remove dead and dangerous trees which could be blown onto the lines in high winds and to prepare key track and signalling equipment to withstand prolonged freezing temperatures.
Many of the initiatives are aimed at preventing points, which move trains from one track to another, freezing up.
Measures include fitting snow displacers at selected points to stop snow blocking them, reducing ballast depth to prevent the metal points sticking to the stones in sub-zero temperatures, and electronic monitoring.
Helicopter inspections will also be used to carry-out thermal imaging to see where points heaters are starting to fail in low temperatures, while a fleet of snow clearing trains and snow ploughs will be available across Scotland throughout the winter.
ScotRail, which invested £2.2million last year pioneering de-icing equipment for trains, enhancing station access, and improving ‘real-time' travel updates for customers, said a key focus this winter is to keep travellers informed.
There will be a series of awareness campaigns at key stations across Scotland aimed at reminding passengers of all the channels they can use for travel information.
And smartphones will be distributed to all 138 staffed stations in Scotland. This will allow staff to access ‘real time' journey information to pass to customers.
Other initiatives include trialling computer terminals at the gateline at Glasgow Central Low Level- where mobile signals can be poor - so staff can provide customers with ‘live' travel updates.
Steve Montgomery, ScotRail's managing director, said: "We have more winter preparation measures in place this year and are rolling out all our innovative technologies to help mitigate potential disruption in extreme weather.
"We will also encourage people to use our wide range of channels to stay up-to-date with the latest journey information."
The rail industry is also liaising closely with the Scottish Government and co-ordinating winter preparations with other transport partners.