Network Rail is refurbishing its snow ploughs for the first time in 20 years to improve performance and reliability.

The full service refurbishment programme goes beyond business-as-usual maintenance, overhauling and modernising the ploughs to the highest specifications.

The work will ensure the ploughs maintain and improve their effectiveness for the next 15 to 20 years. It is part of a wider programme of investment in operational fleet by Network Rail’s Route Services directorate.

Following a competitive tender, Network Rail selected Loram UK as its delivery partner to carry out the overhauls and reengineering at the rail fleet specialist’s Derby facility.

Network Rail’s 12 pairs of Independent snow ploughs, which can plough snow up to a depth of eight feet (2.4m), are being refurbished one pair at a time, with four pairs completed so far. Overhauls of the Independent ploughs started in January 2018 and are expected to last for at least a further 12 months.

The snow ploughs remove heavy snow from the railway tracks safely and efficiently and are propelled by locomotives owned by freight operating companies. They are part of the infrastructure company’s wider fleet designed to help keep the railway running in winter weather.

Mike Black, supply chain services director for Route Services, Network Rail, said: “We are investing £600m in our fleet and depots from 2019 to 2024 so that we can effectively support our customers in the routes. Overhauling our snow ploughs is one of many ways we will be improving our fleet and its maintenance over the coming years for greater reliability.”

A programme to overhaul Network Rail's Bielhack ploughs will begin later this year.

Notes to editor:

  • Network Rail operates a range of seasonal treatment machines to help keep the railway running in all weathers. This includes snow and ice treatment trains, the winter development train and trains that jet-blast leaves off railway tracks in autumn.
  • Supply Chain Operations manages a portfolio of 25 individual services and sits within Network Rail’s Route Services function. This includes fleet and track treatment, delivered materials and direct maintenance and renewal services for infrastructure, construction and engineering. Its 24/7/365 supply chain is formed of 25 individual operations, serving millions of customers night and day.

About Route Services

The Route Services function supplies Network Rail’s route businesses with critical services they decide are best provided from a national team. This includes IT services and equipment, training, supply and operation of Network Rail’s rail fleet, materials including rail and ballast, contract management and procurement, and shared services including finance and HR. Working as a single, service delivery directorate, Route Services allows Network Rail to benefit from economies of scale and greater efficiency from specialised delivery.