Rail passengers frustrated after ice on track causes latest in series of delays

Bournemouth Echo: STRUGGLING WITH WEATHER: A train at Bournemouth railway station STRUGGLING WITH WEATHER: A train at Bournemouth railway station

RAIL bosses were criticised by frustrated passengers facing severe delays yesterday due to ice on the tracks, the latest in a month of weather-related disruptions.

A spokesman for South West Trains said overnight rain and then frost had frozen points and the conductor rail, which powers the trains, between Wareham and Weymouth, and anti-icing trains had been ineffective.

The firm supplied replacement buses between the two stations until 11am, but even after trains began flowing again there were delays of up to an hour, despite the sunny weather.

“The trains are often delayed on this route,” said passenger Laura Langford, 22, who was forced to rebook her connecting taxi due to the delays.

“I understand that these things happen but it is frustrating at the same time.

“If the trains are being delayed because of natural events so often, surely there is something which could be done to prepare better or prevent these problems.”

Amelia Begley, 18, travelled from Weymouth to Poole in a cab funded by SW Trains. She pays £900 for an annual season ticket.

“Today’s delays have caused me significant problems.

“I am already an hour late for college,” she said. “It has been non-stop since December.”

A spokesman for the firm said: “Each winter, we work hard to keep our railway infrastructure reliable and available during really bad weather.

“We have installed heated points and conductor rails and we run ice clearance trains regularly.

“This morning, we put an emergency rail replacement service in place to assist passengers to get to their destinations, and would like to apologise for the delays.”

Managing director Tim Shoveller said the company was battling “some of the worst storms in 20 years” and had dealt with 140 fallen trees and 20 floods across its network since December 23.

With more stormy weather expected, the company has flood sites under constant watch, tree removal teams on standby and early trains running to check for obstructions.

Comments (2)

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8:39am Tue 21 Jan 14

Telscombe Cliffy says...

About time they had some diesel trains or locomotives on standby to combat the third rail unreliability. As for the points, surely you can run a single line shuttle service if the points are frozen in the correct position. Otherwise send some blokes out pronto with heat guns to warm them up/melt the ice and apply antifreeze. Then check they all function at 4am and away you go.
About time they had some diesel trains or locomotives on standby to combat the third rail unreliability. As for the points, surely you can run a single line shuttle service if the points are frozen in the correct position. Otherwise send some blokes out pronto with heat guns to warm them up/melt the ice and apply antifreeze. Then check they all function at 4am and away you go. Telscombe Cliffy
  • Score: 8

9:13am Tue 21 Jan 14

speedy231278 says...

Clearly this part of Network Rail hasn't invested in points heaters or conductor rail heaters. Yes, they cost a lot of money to run, but it's probably cheaper than replacement buses and delay repays. When the railways were BR, if freezing was expected, they'd run empty stock overnight to try and prevent the conductor rail from freezing. I'm pretty sure no amount of deicing trains will work if it has already frozen, as far as I'm aware, the idea with them is to prevent it rather than remove it.
Clearly this part of Network Rail hasn't invested in points heaters or conductor rail heaters. Yes, they cost a lot of money to run, but it's probably cheaper than replacement buses and delay repays. When the railways were BR, if freezing was expected, they'd run empty stock overnight to try and prevent the conductor rail from freezing. I'm pretty sure no amount of deicing trains will work if it has already frozen, as far as I'm aware, the idea with them is to prevent it rather than remove it. speedy231278
  • Score: 6

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