Extreme weather plan for the railway aims to keep people moving

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Greater Anglia and Network Rail have made new preparations to cope with extreme weather– drawing on experience and customer feedback from the Beast from the East.

Greater Anglia has drawn up an Extreme Weather Incident Management Plan which details the changes the operator will make to train services, liaising with Network Rail, during heavy snow, as well as other extreme weather conditions such as high winds, floods and high temperatures.

It also focuses on communicating changes to the train service to customers as far in advance as possible; ensuring stocks of spare parts, and deployment of additional staff – including Customer Action Teams and staff who are usually office based – to attend stations and provide extra help if needed.

At the same time, following feedback from last year, Network Rail has overhauled its winter strategy for 2019 by splitting the Anglia route into three separate regions.

Carefully monitoring the weather forecast to anticipate when the heaviest snow or extreme weather is expected, contingency measures such as a reduced service, speed restrictions or train cancellations apply for that location only, not across the whole Anglia route.

Once a decision has been made, the information will be communicated in advance by the train operator to passengers.Greater Anglia’s Operations Interface Manager, Matthew Shuter, said, “Network Rail, which is ultimately responsible for the management of the railway infrastructure, will decide when it’s necessary to impose limits on the train service, whether through speed restrictions or, in extreme circumstances, the complete closure of a railway line.

“We are responsible for our passengers, colleagues, trains and stations and must take measures to plan for such situations, in partnership with Network Rail, to ensure that we are prepared for extreme weather.

“The new plan makes it easy for staff across the business to see what actions need to be taken in a range of different scenarios and this will make it easier to communicate any changes to customers and keep a consistent, though in some cases limited, level of service in operation where possible.

“We are confident that both Greater Anglia and Network Rail are now better prepared for extreme weather.”

Network Rail’s Chief Operating Officer for Anglia Steve Hooker, said: “In the event of heavy snow, our staff will be working 24/7 to keep railway lines open where possible.

“Working more closely with train operators and listening to feedback, we have learned the lessons from last year and have revised our approach.

“Our contingency measures will be more localised and we won’t take a one size fits all approach across the entire Anglia route, helping more passengers to plan their journeys even in tough conditions.”

As part of the plan a ‘low speed timetable’ has been developed for when Network Rail needs to impose network-wide speed restrictions during extreme weather.

This is in response to feedback from customers who said that when bad weather disrupts services they would prefer a consistent plan to be introduced and stuck to, so that they know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

Once the decision has been taken to introduce the low speed timetable, it will be implemented for the entire day, and people will be advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

If lines become blocked with snow, Greater Anglia will work with Network Rail to re-open them as soon as is practical. In the case of snow, if the roads are considered to be dangerous, rail replacement services may not run for safety reasons.

Under the new plans, Greater Anglia aims to give customers three days’ notice about anticipated extreme weather events and will continue to provide updated information daily via its website at greateranglia.co.uk, notices at stations, the app and on Twitter @greateranglia