HomeGovernanceRail bodies team up to battle the elements this autumn

Rail bodies team up to battle the elements this autumn


Network Rail and Transport for Wales (TfW) are using modern technology to prepare for the perfect storm of climate change and autumnal weather.

The season is known to be a challenging time for rail, impacting its passenger services as well as any replacement road transport. In 2020, storms Ellen, Francis and Alex caused wide disruption. It also included the wettest day on record since 1891.

Lee Waters, Welsh Government.

Deputy minister for climate change, Lee Waters MS, said: “Climate change is having a very real impact on the weather as we’ve seen with the unprecedented storms of the last few years, so I am pleased that TfW working with Network Rail are taking these measures, using the most up to date technology, to deal with the impact of severe weather on our rail network as we head into the autumn.”

Actions include:

  • Spotting high-risk areas using Automated Intelligent Video Review (AIVR) footage on the front of trains as well as creating robust de-vegetation plans for each area;
  • Creating a dedicated autumn control desk which will have double the resources put into it compared with autumn 2020 and bigger frontline response teams;
  • Use of railhead treatment trains to blast away vegetation debris from tracks and the application of traction gel in sites where vegetation can cause low wheel-rail friction levels – this year there will be 57 traction gel applicators in use;
  • Contingency plans to mitigate service disruption in the event of a reduction in available train carriages;
  • Removal of class 142 and 143 ‘Pacers’ from service. These were the most vulnerable rolling stock in TfW’s fleet to adhesion-related issues.
Colin Lea, Transport for Wales.

Transport for Wales director for planning and performance Colin Lea said: “The autumn season presents significant challenges to the rail industry, and we work hard throughout the year preparing.

“Working within COVID guidelines and closely with Network Rail and CVL maintenance colleagues, we have cleared concerning lineside vegetation, arranged rail treatment train runs and removed the old pacer trains, which were our most vulnerable trains when it came to adhesion-related issues at this time of year.

“Our staff will continue to work around the clock over the autumn period, and beyond, in some very testing environments to keep our customers on the move, with their safety at the heart of everything we do.”


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