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Snow/Ice disruption from 29 Dec onwards

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Wivenswold

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Good evening,

The first stage of a big "cool down" is in place today. Conditions remain marginal for snow/rain in the South but some higher ground will see accumilations and as the air continues to cool, forecast weather systems on Wednesday, Friday and the start of next week could bring very heavy snow. Prior to that, there may even be patches of freezing rain, normal rain, sleet and snow showers. The whole of the UK will be affected at some point in the next 10 days+

Winds turn Easterly over the weekend and then the real cold starts to dig in. An unusually warm North Sea is adding complications though, it increases the potential precipitation amounts and temperature which favours rain but then evaporating cooling could come into effect turning the lot to fluffy white snow whereever it falls. It's a forecasters' nightmare.

There will be disruption so I thought I'd start a thread to discuss it but also to serve as a reminder/warning for anyone travelling or working, especially rail workers who may be affected.

The Met Office has issued precautionary weather warnings. Being a marginal event weather apps are more useless than usual. Keep up to date with the Met Office, they have detailed forecasts produced by humans on You Tube.

Here are the warnings as of tonight.

 
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Pete_uk

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Are there any problems with rails or point in extreme cold like there is with extreme heat?
 

bramling

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Are there any problems with rails or point in extreme cold like there is with extreme heat?

Yes if point heaters aren't functioning correctly. The main thing with ice & snow is to keep the show moving. Problems multiply when the job stops, as this is when things start freezing up, especially on systems which rely on top-contact conductor rails as every minute when there's no train passing over is time spent freezing over.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Yes if point heaters aren't functioning correctly. The main thing with ice & snow is to keep the show moving. Problems multiply when the job stops, as this is when things start freezing up, especially on systems which rely on top-contact conductor rails as every minute when there's no train passing over is time spent freezing over.

Even without point heaters - in very low temperatures - it is good policy to move points fairly frequently (as it was with mechanical signalllng) , and in certain places a "key route strategy" is invoked to reduce point moves and to keep a certain % of routes functional.
 

Snow1964

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Are there any problems with rails or point in extreme cold like there is with extreme heat?

Dry cold should not be a problem (although in extreme cold, metal can be more brittle)

Damp, or when it freezes and forms ice, is a problem, and things get stuck, or ice stops point blades moving. Heaters are used to fix this.

Ice is also a problem on conductor rails

Snow is not a problem on plain line, until is gets above height of rails.
 

Ken H

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isnt there a problem with a 'hard road' when the ballast freezes and doesnt 'give' under a train?
 

AM9

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isnt there a problem with a 'hard road' when the ballast freezes and doesnt 'give' under a train?
Surely the ballast would need to be waterlogged and then freeze solid for that to be an issue, - most unlikely in the UK.
 

al78

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Are there any problems with rails or point in extreme cold like there is with extreme heat?
There is no extreme cold forecast, a degree or three below freezing usually happens at least once or twice every year in populated areas. Extreme cold is the 1962/3 winter, January 1987 or December 2010.
 

Wychwood93

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A winter like 1962/3 would be very hard for the railway to cope with - even a sniff of snow nowadays causes issues, much the same as too much rain. We never quite cope with predictable weather events in the way that we should.
 

LMS 4F

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In the late 1990s I and a friend had a trip on a National Power 59 to Malibu colliery to load up with coal. We couldn’t get into the pit yard because the points were blocked up
with snow.
After a long wait a man appeared with what looked like a sharpened broom handle and a container of some liquid. The liquid was poured and the pole prodded and we eventually gained access.
A train costing tens of not thousands of pounds saved by about £5 worth of kit.
The loading of the hoppers on a slight slope all under control of the 59 as the train came back down under the loader was very impressive.

In the late 1990s I and a friend had a trip on a National Power 59 to Malibu colliery to load up with coal. We couldn’t get into the pit yard because the points were blocked up
with snow.
After a long wait a man appeared with what looked like a sharpened broom handle and a container of some liquid. The liquid was poured and the pole prodded and we eventually gained access.
A train costing tens of not thousands of pounds saved by about £5 worth of kit.
The loading of the hoppers on a slight slope all under control of the 59 as the train came back down under the loader was very impressive.
Should be Maltby colliery.
 

LowLevel

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In the late 1990s I and a friend had a trip on a National Power 59 to Malibu colliery to load up with coal. We couldn’t get into the pit yard because the points were blocked up
with snow.
After a long wait a man appeared with what looked like a sharpened broom handle and a container of some liquid. The liquid was poured and the pole prodded and we eventually gained access.
A train costing tens of not thousands of pounds saved by about £5 worth of kit.
The loading of the hoppers on a slight slope all under control of the 59 as the train came back down under the loader was very impressive.


Should be Maltby colliery.

I've known someone trying to manually wind points failed due to ice between the blade and rail try and force it and shatter the cast iron point machine casing rendering a machine worth 5 figures scrap - snow and ice under compression are far too hard to force it.
 

Llanigraham

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A winter like 1962/3 would be very hard for the railway to cope with - even a sniff of snow nowadays causes issues, much the same as too much rain. We never quite cope with predictable weather events in the way that we should.
Only problem that year was getting to and from work!
vngPByz.jpg
 
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Will the TOCs be making preparations in advance of adverse weather conditions? Reserving rail replacement buses?
 

Skie

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Replacement buses tend to fare pretty poorly in snow. Most councils keep normal bus routes and major roads gritted, but RRBs tend to venture off the usual bus routes when going between stations.

One preparation Merseyrail usually do is to keep running trains (ECS) overnight to help keep the conductor rail from freezing. Has been a successful strategy over the years but even that measure can’t always beat some extreme conditions..
 

SynthD

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A winter like 1962/3 would be very hard for the railway to cope with - even a sniff of snow nowadays causes issues, much the same as too much rain. We never quite cope with predictable weather events in the way that we should.
They happen so rarely I was only alive for one of the three years mentioned. It’s not worth a greater response that will be used once a decade even if it gets worse.
 

LAX54

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They happen so rarely I was only alive for one of the three years mentioned. It’s not worth a greater response that will be used once a decade even if it gets worse.
Remember in 87, the SR hired in the Scotrail snow blower, took 48 hours to get there, but did the job, BR (SR) then bought one for Kent, only to be sold off some years later never having turned a wheel !
Don't think there have been any recent years where snow (at least in Anglia) has brought the railway to a stand.....roads yes, train no.
 

dk1

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Remember in 87, the SR hired in the Scotrail snow blower, took 48 hours to get there, but did the job, BR (SR) then bought one for Kent, only to be sold off some years later never having turned a wheel !
Don't think there have been any recent years where snow (at least in Anglia) has brought the railway to a stand.....roads yes, train no.
Norfolk locals where disrupted around 3-4 years ago. Don't you remember the footage of the ploughs bursting through the drifts at Buckenham?
 

LAX54

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Norfolk locals where disrupted around 3-4 years ago. Don't you remember the footage of the ploughs bursting through the drifts at Buckenham?
Ahh of course ! forgotten about that...Gary Atkins took the video, recall it was also shown on Aussie TV ! ( I also remember 87, and being stuck in Cantley box for 3 days solid, no one could get in, or out !)
 

dk1

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Ahh of course ! forgotten about that...Gary Atkins took the video, recall it was also shown on Aussie TV ! ( I also remember 87, and being stuck in Cantley box for 3 days solid, no one could get in, or out !)
I did 05:00 until 14:45 the following day there once when Robin Roe couldn't get in from Freethorpe so I stood no chance of getting home to Yarmouth. Stoked the old turtle stove up & Basil Hyatt sent provisions from Norwich Station buffet.
 

LAX54

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I did 05:00 until 14:45 the following day there once when Robin Roe couldn't get in from Freethorpe so I stood no chance of getting home to Yarmouth. Stoked the old turtle stove up & Basil Hyatt sent provisions from Norwich Station buffet.
Basil Hyatt and Mr Roe :) Red House kept me fed and 'watered' :)
 

SECR263

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A winter like 1962/3 would be very hard for the railway to cope with - even a sniff of snow nowadays causes issues, much the same as too much rain. We never quite cope with predictable weather events in the way that we should.
No doubt Ashford MPD are firing up C Class DS239 for snow plough duty. At least one C Class was fitted with scrubber brushes on the tender to scrape off third rail ice. A shoe beam arrangement fitted to axle boxes.
 

Wynd

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Beast from the East 2018?

Who can forget. Both ECML and WCML closed over the Border for 3 days. That was not a fun time as a commuter.

On the upside NR did refurbish the ploughs and put them in to strategic locations again after that.

Its arguable the lines could have remained open if cleared during those snow storms...
 
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