WITH winter fast approaching, rail operator Southern has assured passengers that it is on track to deliver an improved service in the face of any extreme weather conditions.
Last winter saw the worst weather conditions in the south east for more than 30 years.
In early December last year, Southern services were severely hit as ice and snow affected the whole of the third rail network across the south east.
With forecasters predicting similar conditions for this winter Southern has been working in conjunction with railway infrastructure owners Network Rail to keep trains on the move and say they will offer the best possible levels of service.
Plans to deal with snow and ice include a conductor heating rail, winter treatment fleet, snow teams, and train modifications,
The conductor rail is the ‘third’ rail which supplies the power to enable electric trains to run.
In extremely cold and damp conditions, ice can form on the top of these rails preventing a connection between the rail and the train, and so not allowing the train from moving forward.
Last year, this was one of Southern’s biggest obstacles.
Network Rail insists that it has been concentrating on infrastructure improvements including conductor rail heating, points heaters and ice treatment trains.
Meanwhile Southern has been making modifications to trains and depots to enable them to cope better with ice and snow. The rail company has disclosed that it is concentrating on improving the way it communicates with passengers during disruption.
A spokesman for Southern said: “While we continue to work hard to deliver some of these activities over the next few weeks, and in some cases months, I hope from this information that passengers will see that everyone at Southern and Network Rail is determined that this year, should the bad weather come, we will be able to offer a better service in all respects.”