'Beast from the East' leads to Norfolk train cancellations, but Network Rail says NASA-grade insulation will help
PUBLISHED: 17:59 26 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:04 26 February 2018
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
Rail bosses say they are using NASA-grade insulation to try to stop points from freezing during the cold snap.
Network Rail has set out its winter weather plans, with heavy snow expected across East Anglia in the next few days.
Amid warnings that some parts of the Eastern region could see up to 30cm of snow this week, engineers are to focus on keeping the main parts of the rail network open.
But Network Rail said if severe weather occurs as expected, contingency timetables will be in operation. This means there will be no services on rural routes: Norwich to Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Sheringham, and Ipswich to Felixstowe and Lowestoft.
Greater Anglia has cancelled more than 200 services and has been warning passengers that services will be run down by 10pm tonight, with passengers advised to complete their journeys by then.
The 9pm and 10.30pm Norwich to London Liverpool Street and 9.15pm Cambridge to Norwich services are among those cancelled.
They said a limited service would run from 7am until 10pm tomorrow and Wednesday, with no services between Norwich and Sheringham. Norwich and Great Yarmouth and Norwich and Lowestoft.
There will be a reduced service on all other routes. Passengers are advised to check how this will affect their journeys over the next few days.
But Network Rail says, in order to keep key routes as clear as possible, they have an action plan in place which includes:
• Attaching heaters and NASA-grade insulation to points to prevent ice forming
• Patrols of the tracks day and night to clear snow and ice from junctions and tunnels to help keep everything moving
• When conditions are very serious, temporary speed restrictions will be put in place for trains and teams will monitor any parts of the network at risk
• Preventative measures include installing protection from the flood water created by melting snow and sending out ice patrols to remove ice from overhead lines.
They said snow and ice can impact the railway in the following ways:
• Snow compacted by passing trains can turn into solid ice – particularly in areas where trains move slowly – and prevents points working
• Rails can freeze together which means signals stay red and trains stop
• Heavy snow can make branches break off trees, damaging overhead wires and blocking the track
• Wind can cause snow drifts of 30cm or more – in this case, trains would need to be fitted with snow ploughs to run safely
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We will be keeping a close eye on the forecast over the next few days and have contingency plans in place for the expected extreme weather.
“Our staff will be working 24/7 to keep main lines open but in order to do this we cannot keep all branch lines open.
“We understand the inconvenience this causes but the safety of our passengers and staff remains our number one priority. We will work to reopen all branch lines as soon as the weather clears.”