The company is investing heavily in new technology and equipment that will help keep rail lines open and trains on the move.
The initiatives include a new £1 million winter-weather engineering train – which can be used to defrost key junctions during periods of prolonged sub-zero temperatures and to transport engineers and equipment quickly around the rail network when roads are closed.
The company will also be using a helicopter to thermal image the network to identify spots where severe weather could take hold and more off-road vehicles are being made available to the company’s engineers.
This winter will also see the launch of new on-track technologies designed to keep the railway infrastructure, and points in particular, free of ice and snow, including:
- Trialling a new system of insulating points heater strips which will help them work for longer in the worst of the winter weather
- Fitting snow displacers at selected points to stop snow building up between the point ends and blocking the points
- Reducing the ballast depth beneath sets of points to prevent the metal components sticking to the stones below during periods of prolonged sub-zero temperatures
- Using NASA-grade insulation material currently used on space suits to insulate the inside of points machines to help prevent water building up or freezing inside them
- Installing current monitors at various sets of points to check changes in power and warn when points are starting to fail
The company’s fleet of ten Scottish-based snow clearing trains will also be in full operation throughout the winter and teams of engineers will work around-the-clock through any severe weather to man key pieces of infrastructure.