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Solar-powered tech watches over rail

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Network Rail has installed sixty solar-powered weather watchers between London Euston and Carlisle.

The weather stations monitor the railway on the West Coast main line and across parts of the North West, so engineers can react fast before and during extreme weather events.

Flash flooding on the West Coast main line in Camden.

Costing a total of £1.3 million, the new weather stations give staff access to real-time data so response teams can be sent to the right place at the right time to fix the railway rapidly.

The scientific surveillance stations measure:

  • Wind speed & direction
  • Wind gust & direction
  • Air temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Dew point
  • Rain fall totals (precipitation rate & accumulation)

In the longer term, the data gathered will help Network Rail weather experts to predict which parts of the network are more vulnerable to bad weather before it even hits.

Flooding on the West Coast main line.
Talisa Fletcher, Network Rail.

Network Rail service delivery manager, Talisa Fletcher, said the stations would help respond to a rise in extreme weather:“Our solar powered weather stations will help us to better understand weather patterns and during stormy weather we can send our response teams to where they’re most needed which will help us to reduce disruption and keep passengers safe.”

Since 2015, in Network Rail’s North West and Central region, extreme weather has caused half a million minutes of train delays – or more than 400 days.

As COP26 opened in Glasgow, thousands of West Coast main line passengers and rail engineers felt the weather’s wrath as a month’s rainfall lashed the railway in the space of a few hours.

This led to speed restrictions and emergency railway closures causing major disruption for passengers.

But this new technology is designed to better prepare Network Rail to stay one step ahead of the changing climate, reducing delays so it can get people and goods to where they need to be.

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