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Delays explained: why we can’t run trains during repairs

We try our best to keep trains moving while we carry out repairs on the railway.

We know it’s frustrating to face delays when problems affect the railway and we do everything we can to prevent as much disruption as possible.

Sometimes, we can let normal train services run while we carry out repairs but it’s not always possible.

The number of people travelling on the railway has doubled in the last 20 years. We invest £100m a week in improvements for passengers but with so many more services running on our track, problems are likely to occur.

Closing the line as a last resort

A lot of the time, we do repairs without affecting services – every week, we test the metal in rail to make sure it stays safe for the speed of the trains using the line.

Every day, we carry out a range of tests on our infrastructure – visual inspections, electronic tests and various measurements to help keep trains running at full speed.

Some of our newest technology enables us to inspect track by taking an incredible 70,000 images a second.

However, sometimes we must carry out repairs so big that we divert trains to do the work safely. Problems such as landslips would require us to do this. Recent examples include a landslip at Wadhurst, East Sussex, in March 2019 that meant it wasn’t safe to operate services.

Why do we need to close the line?

In places, the railway is the same width of a country road. If a landslip occurred on a remote country road with no other access to it, the road would need to close to give the repair team safe access. It’s often the same on the railway.

Once we have completed enough work, we can sometimes open one line in the immediate area to help keep passengers moving.

We do everything we can to get train services moving again – quickly and safely.

Drone footage reveals the scale of the repairs needed on the Conwy Valley Line in Wales after Storm Gareth in March 2019…

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