Weather: The wrong kind of icicles threaten rail services

FIRST it was the wrong kind of snow, now the wrong kind of icicles could be about to wreak havoc on our rail services.

As the big chill and frosty conditions cause mass delays on the nation’s rail and flight services, rail bosses are on the look out for icicles forming around rail tracks and overhead bridges.

Today, overhead power lines were tripping out due to icicles forming under bridges and making contact with the high voltage wiring.

A spokesman for Network Rail said that the freezing conditions meant that icicles were potentially a major issue.

“Over head power lines carry thousands and thousands volts and potentially icicles can cause the electricity to jump out of the rails,” he said.

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“It can lead to a short circuit and can cause massive problems. It can be dangerous.”

He explained that within the past two weeks, there had been incident which saw icicles build up on the outskirts of London Liverpool Street which lead to a major backlog of delays.

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A spokesman for Network Rail said that patrol teams were removing icicles as they form under bridges.

Meanwhile, engineers from National Express East Anglia (NXEA) tended to trains which had been affected by snow building up in the doors and undercarriages - causing equipment to freeze up.

Many rail services were delayed, with others completely cancelled in areas of Essex and Suffolk.

A NXEA spokeswoman said: “National Express East Anglia would like to apologise to customers for the disruption that has affected train services today.

“Adverse weather conditions and earlier train failures have led to significant delays across much of our network.

“An amended timetable has also been introduced on a number of routes. We are working closely with our colleagues at Network Rail to ensure that we keep our services running and we are working hard to give our customers timely information through our websites, e-mail updates, twitter and National Rail Enquiries.”

Tomorrow, NXEA are running an amended service, with the Stansted Express running to a half-hourly frequency from 5am.

Services between Stratford and Stansted Airport have been cancelled, with customers being advised to travel via London Liverpool Street.

Train services between Braintree and London Liverpool Street will only run between Braintree and Witham.

In addition the 7.05am and 8.11am services from Stowmarket to London Liverpool Street have been cancelled.

Meanwhile, the cold snap continues to cause massive disruptions for those attempting to fly. Although Gatwick and Stansted airports were both open today, closures from the weekend cause a knock-on effect, leaving many stranded.

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