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Very wet weather can significantly impact the rail network.
With heavy rain forecast in the coming hours, we're advising passengers to check their travel plans at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk.
When wet and windy weather hits Britain, our engineers work determinedly night and day to keep the railway open for passenger services.
Floods, high winds and landslips can destroy railway infrastructure and cause lines to be blocked, so our teams repair damage and clear debris to ensure trains can continue to run.
Flood water in particular can pose problems on the railway. Water blocking the lines, as well as debris, silt and mud making its way onto the track, are only part of it. The lasting damage that flood water can cause to infrastructure can lead to ongoing repair work that takes days, weeks or even months.
If you live by the railway, please help us by securing any loose garden items that might blow on to the tracks.
The effect of flooding on the railway and what we’re doing to reduce it
Even once water seems to have receded, landslips are another risk that comes with such a volume of water.
Landslips happen when the water in the ground forces the grains of the soil apart so that the grains no longer lock together and the slope does not have enough strength to stand up, so begins to slip downhill. Their frequency is strongly related to the weather. Long, wet periods often result in a lot of landslides. In some cases, these do not affect anyone and therefore do not get reported; however, when they affect roads, railways and other infrastructure they can cause great disruption.
Tonnes of wet earth, mud and other debris spreading onto the track is a huge problem, closing lines until the large obstructions can be safely removed.
Gale force winds cause a real problem for the railway. This commonly comes in the form of debris blown onto the tracks, including trees or other forms of vegetation that delay trains while the line is cleared.
More seriously, trees that are blown down can hit overhead power lines (pictured), severing connections or in some cases knocking down masts entirely.
Managing vegetation by the railway
To be as prepared as possible, we receive forecasts through the Network Rail Weather Service and enact our Extreme Weather Response Process to prepare for the storms. We also receive alerts through our Flood Warning database, and can receive information from locations not covered by this by using bespoke river-level monitoring equipment.
Other tools look at the longer term management of flood risks to the railway, including the Washout and Earthflow Risk Mapping system (WERM) used by our geotechnical teams on each route. This identifies earthworks that are likely to be flooded and assesses the risk of this happening. The results can then be used to build a flood-warning database so that these areas are checked during any flood warnings that cover the route.
When a problem is forecast, we send people and equipment to at-risk areas to take action quickly.
Being prepared is essential in helping to minimise disruption on the lines as adverse weather continues.
There are many ways that we prepare for and reduce the possibility of flooding, for example, including deploying flood defence systems such as inflatable barriers, and clearing branches and leaves from ditches and culverts on and near the railway.
Find out more information on the Delays Explained page.
Here are just a few of the railway storm repair projects or drainage improvements we’ve carried out in recent years:
Rebuilding the sea wall protecting the railway between Dover and Folkestone
Rock armour protecting the Settle-Carlisle line after last year’s landslip and major repair project
Using technology to improve resilience after severe damage to the railway at Dawlish
Repairing the Blaenau Ffestiniog tunnel on the Conwy Valley line
Improving drainage as part of a £3.5m upgrade between Chippenham and Swindon
Improvements on the line between Didcot and Oxford
The post How storms and flooding affect the railway appeared first on Network Rail.
This article first appeared on www.networkrail.co.uk
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