Stormy weather can severely impact the railway. When this happens, we work night and day to keep the railway open for your train services.
What does stormy weather do to the railway?
Floods, high winds and landslips can destroy railway infrastructure and block lines, so our teams repair damage and clear debris to ensure trains can continue to run.
Water blocking the lines – debris, silt and mud making its way onto the track – are only part of it. The lasting damage flood water can cause to infrastructure can lead to ongoing repair work that takes days, weeks or even months. Washed away ballast – the stones that support the track – can make the line unsafe until it’s re-laid.
Flooding can also affect:
- live conductor rails that power trains
- signalling, which tells trains if it’s safe to proceed
- and points, which enable trains to change lines.
Sometimes, flooding doesn’t stop trains running. But if water levels rise above the rails, trains must slow down to prevent damage to the train.
Strong winds can blow trees into infrastructure, damaging the overhead lines that power electric trains. The winds can mean it’s unsafe to carry out repairs at height – or with certain machinery until the winds have dropped. This could mean we won’t complete repairs in time for a normal morning service.
And objects like trampolines and garden furniture can blow onto the tracks, blocking the line. If you live by the railway, please help us by securing any loose garden items that might blow on to the tracks.
Landslips are another risk – even once the water seems to have receded. They happen when the moisture in the ground forces the grains of soil apart – so the embankment weakens and slides.
How we respond to storms
We constantly monitor the weather so we can act quickly with repairs, flood defence systems and teams to clear lines. Your safety always comes first so sometimes we’ll need to slow down or cancel services. But we’ll work with the wider rail industry to keep you updated and get you where you need to be, safely.
Check your journey
We can’t change the weather, but it can change your plans. Visit National Rail or your train company’s website for the latest travel information.