This Is Why Trains Are Cancelled Even Though There's No Snow
27 February 2018, 08:58
Many people have arrived at train stations this morning to find their services have been cancelled... even though there is no snow yet. One rail expert explains why.
Bruce Williamson from the Campaign Group Rail Future explained that much of Britain's ageing rail network relies on an electrified third rail - and that won't work in freezing conditions.
Speaking to Nick Ferrari, he explained: "There are several ways of powering a train. You can have a diesel engine, you can have an overhead wire - which is our preferred way of doing it - but in the south-east, many trains are powered by the extra rail which carries the current. It's used on the London Underground as well.
"If that gets a dusting of snow or ice, the ice doesn't conduct electricity and can't get power to the train. They won't work under -10 degrees, even with deicers.
"You can have a whole fleet of deicing trains and snow ploughs, but the problem is that they would get used less than once a year and, looking at the cost to the rail network, it isn't worth it. We have virtually no snow last year.
"They would be wasting resources that could be used for making the trains run 364 days of the year."
Mr Williamson suggested it's not just the equipment that struggles in the cold weather. Many train drivers drive a car to work, so if the roads are clogged up, they can't get there to get the trains out.
He believes that customers would be more supportive of their train companies if the communication was better. He added: "If the customers know what's going on and why, then I think the frustration would be eased and the people wouldn't wait on the platforms, they'd stay at home."