With more wintery weather forecast across West Yorkshire over the next few days, Network Rail’s teams are working tenaciously to keep train services moving.
Standedge Tunnel on the route between Leeds/Huddersfield and Manchester, is around three miles long, with the temperature inside staying around eight degrees all year round.
When the temperatures outside the tunnel drop, icicles often appear at each end of the tunnel which can cause damage to passing trains and disruption to services. Icicles on bridges and other structures can also damage the overhead power lines.
Keeping lines open and moving is crucial during lockdown so that passengers making essential journeys can get to and from work, and so vital freight services can continue transporting food, medical supplies and fuel across the country.
Snow and ice can build up on the railway, blocking points on the track and if ice coats the overhead power lines, it can also stop trains getting the power they need to run, disrupting the railway even further.
Network Rail operates special winter trains, complete with all the right gear to tackle whatever the bad weather brings. When snow is forecast, Network Rail also works with train operators to fit now plough attachments to the front of trains. Empty trains, known as ghost trains, also run overnight to keep the tracks clear.
Chris Gee, Operations Director for Network Rail’s North and East route, said: “Work to remove the ice from Standedge Tunnel is vital so passengers who need to make essential journeys can travel on this key route, which connects West Yorkshire and Manchester.
“Winter is always challenging and I’m proud of our teams who work tirelessly in all weathers to monitor the railway, maintain the tracks and make sure trains can run safely.
“All year round, we plan for snow and ice, as well as strong wind, heavy rain and extreme heat in summer, so services can continue.”
Images: Network Rail