Network Rail has set out its winter weather plans as heavy snow is expected across East Anglia in the next few days.
The Met Desk has warned of up to 30 centimetres of snow to fall during heavy snow showers overnight from Monday to Tuesday, and on Wednesday and subsequent days, when temperatures will rarely get above freezing so snow will not melt, and there is a risk of snow drifts.
Engineers will focus on keeping the main parts of the rail network open, which means that lines will be closed early from today (Monday 26 February). A reduced service will operate over the next few days. Network Rail will have extra staff on hand working 24/7 to respond to any issues, and to try to prevent issues occurring in the first place, in order to keep key routes as clear as possible. This includes:
Attaching heaters and NASA-grade insulation to points to prevent ice forming
Team Orange patrol 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.
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.”
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. 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.
Notes to Editors:
Monday evening onwards will see services end by 22:00 on Monday, and only a limited service in operation from 06:00 to 22:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday and Wednesday:
No service: Norwich to Sheringham, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft; Ipswich to Felixstowe and Lowestoft; Colchester to Colchester Town; Stratford to Tottenham Hale.
Shuttle service only: Braintree to Witham; Harwich to Manningtree; Thorpe-le-Soken to Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton; Southminster to Wickford; Marks Tey to Sudbury;
Running but less frequent/slower service: Norwich to London, Norwich to Cambridge, Ipswich to Cambridge, Ipswich to Peterborough, Ipswich and Colchester to London, Southend to London, Cambridge to London, Stansted Airport to London, will run a reduced service from 06.00 to 22.00 on Tuesday and Wednesday, with all services finishing by 22.00 on Monday.
Ticket restrictions will be lifted and passengers may travel on an earlier or later service than booked. Passengers will also be allowed to travel on Monday 26th February with a ticket for Tuesday 27th or Wednesday 28th, and will be allowed to travel with tickets for those days when services resume to normal following the bad weather.
c2c will be operating a limited timetable only on Tuesday 27 February and advises customers not to travel where possible. Services will also finish significantly earlier than normal on Monday with cancellations and alterations from 21.00.
Monday 26 February
The last services departing today will be as follows:
Trains via Laindon:
The last train to London will depart Shoeburyness at 21.26 The last train from London will depart Fenchurch Street at 22.49
Trains via Rainham: The last train to London will depart Grays at 23.39 and terminate at Barking The last train from London will depart Fenchurch Street at 22.55
Trains via Ockendon: The last train to London will depart Southend Central at 22.12 and terminate at Upminster The last train from London will depart Fenchurch Street at 22.41
Train services to stations north of Royston on the Cambridge route will finish early tonight
There will be a later start-up tomorrow morning on this section of the network,
Fewer trains will run between King’s Lynn and Cambridge in the morning and evening peak
There will be a reduction of two trains per hour between King’s Cross and Ely via Cambridge throughout the day
Monday 26 February
Late night trains from King’s Cross to stations north of Royston towards Cambridge and King’s Lynn will be altered as follows:
22:14 King’s Cross to King’s Lynn: this is the last train to King’s Lynn
22:44 King’s Cross – Ely: terminates early, at Cambridge (this is a non-stopping service)
22:52 King’s Cross – Cambridge will run as normal: This will be our last direct stopping service of the evening north of Royston
23:04 King’s Cross – Cambridge: terminates early, at Royston
23:14 King’s Cross to King’s Lynn: terminates early, at Cambridge
23:44 King’s Cross – Cambridge: terminates early, at Royston
00:04 King’s Cross – Cambridge: terminates early, at Royston
Please be aware last trains will be very busy and you should travel earlier if possible.
Tuesday, 27 February
Great Northern will not be allowed to run passenger services north of Royston until 06:00.
The following changes will apply:
04:54 King’s Lynn to King’s Cross: cancelled
04:54 Greater Anglia service from King’s Lynn: cancelled
05:51 King’s Lynn to King’s Cross: will run at 06:00
05:14 Cambridge to King’s Cross: starts from Royston
05:35 Cambridge to King’s Cross: starts from Royston
06:14 Cambridge – King’s Cross: cancelled
Other services in the peak between King’s Lynn and Cambridge will run hourly instead of half hourly.
Throughout the day, the Cambridge Flyers between King’s Cross and Ely (XX14 from KGX and XX58 from Ely) will be cancelled.
There is likely to be an early close-down of services north of Royston, possibly earlier than Monday, 26 February.