How storms and flooding affect the railway

Published on : Friday, November 30, 2018

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.

 

Flood water in particular can pose problems on the railway. Water blocking the lines, as well as debris, silt and mud making its way onto the track, are only part of it. The lasting damage that flood water can cause to infrastructure can lead to ongoing repair work that takes days, weeks or even months.

 

Flood water can wash away ballast – the bed of stones that supports the railway sleepers. Such ‘washouts’ can make the line unsafe until it has been re-laid.

 

Points and signalling equipment rely on intricate wiring and power supplies, which are extremely vulnerable to failure during flooding, and need replacing before services can run again. If the track has a live conductor rail, flooding can cause a short circuit.

 

Sometimes flood water doesn’t stop trains running, but if water levels rise above the rails, trains have to reduce their speed to prevent damage to the train, which in turn can cause delays.

 

Heavy rain can overwhelm the drainage systems on the railway, known as culverts, and make flooding more likely.

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