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News from East Midlands Trains

05.12.2011

Rail passengers benefit from improved winter contingency plans

  • East Midlands Trains and Network Rail measures to tackle severe weather 
  • Better communication, special timetables and more reliable trains 
  • New Twitter feed, more help points and screens at stations, special train anti-freeze

East Midlands Trains today (5 December 2011) announced a package of measures to reassure passengers that it is better prepared than ever before to deal with severe weather following last year’s harsh winter.

In partnership with Network Rail, which manages the rail network’s track and signalling, East Midlands Trains has reviewed the experience of the past two winters to strengthen existing extensive contingency plans and help further protect train services for passengers.

The new measures include improved customer communication, better contingency timetables and technical work to help trains handle extreme conditions.

A new dedicated Twitter feed will alert passengers using the popular social media channel to how their service is running. East Midlands Trains is also investing in improved customer information screens, as well as introducing help-points at nearly 30 stations.

A special anti-freeze that can withstand temperatures as low as minus 28 degrees Celsius will be used in on-train coolant systems. The lowest recorded temperature in the UK was minus 27.2 degrees Celsius on 30 December 1995 at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands.

Other measures include: 

  • Special contingency timetables agreed in advance with Network Rail to help keep main routes open 
  • New agreements with neighbouring train operators to help passengers travel more easily on alternative routes 
  • Improved coupling system on many trains to allow them to “split and join” more reliably during extreme winter conditions 
  • Better contingency plans to help with removing snow from stations and maintenance depots 
  • Steps to ensure rail services are seen as a high priority for fuel deliveries 
  • Improved management of key points by Network Rail, including completed power upgrades on key points heaters. Network Rail has also invested in a new system to allow remote monitoring of points heaters to predict issues before they have a significant impact upon performance.

David Horne, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “We have worked with Network Rail and our maintenance partners, Bombardier, to use our experience and passenger feedback from the last two years to ensure we are better prepared than ever before to deal with the impact of severe winter weather.

“Our staff did a great job of running as many train services as possible last year. This was despite some exceptionally challenging circumstances, which saw significantly lower temperatures than the railway infrastructure and our trains were originally designed to withstand.

“However, we know that there are always improvements to be made, particularly in communicating with our customers and making sure our fleet of trains is better prepared to deal with the kind of freezing temperatures we experienced last year.

“We will always face challenges in times of severe weather disruption, but the plans we have in place for this year will help us to make sure that we can offer our passengers the best possible service and the most useful information in these difficult circumstances.”

Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “We have learned some useful lessons following the extreme weather last year. Our teams are well prepared and, working with East Midlands Trains, we are confident we can deliver the best possible service this winter.”