Autumn traditionally causes operational problems on the rail network across the UK.
Network Rail and Transport for Wales have been working closely together all year to prepare and to keep customers moving this autumn and winter.
Both organisations are committed to safety, punctuality and delivering a first class customer experience for everyone travelling with Transport for Wales.
Why does Autumn cause problems on the rail network?
- Extreme weather events can cause flooding, obstructions on the line and landslips, and climate change is increasingly making autumn unpredictable.
- Changing conditions can cause rails to become slippery.
- Leaves, debris and atmospheric conditions can also lead to slippery rails which can affect braking and acceleration. They can also cause a train to slide, causing damage to wheels, which then need to be repaired or replaced.
- When trains are damaged and have to be repaired, it means less overall capacity on the network, meaning some services may be busier than usual or cancelled altogether.
- Small delays can have a knock-on effect to multiple other services. Line closures can also mean significant pressure on road transport and other services.
How are we working together in Wales to prepare and respond?
- Established joint working group to identify problems earlier and address.
- Using innovation and new technology to map and treat the entire network every four weeks to highlight problem areas for targeted investment.
- Stocking up on new wheels to ensure trains don’t need to have a full wheel change, which takes far longer than a repair.
- Comprehensive track treatment (RHTT) and vegetation management programme.
- Fully fitted Wheel Slide Protection on one of our oldest fleets now. Last year this investment saw a 57% reduction in damage and trains in for repair.
What customers should know and can expect
- We will be doing all we can to deliver a seamless service this Autumn and have prepared thoroughly.
- However, experience tells us autumn and winter weather can be unpredictable and hard hitting.
- Some services may be delayed due to temporary speed restrictions, some lines may be forced to close temporarily due to flooding, landslips or fallen debris and some trains may need additional repairs, meaning reduced capacity on some routes.
- Both Network Rail and Transport for Wales have prepared thoroughly based on our experiences in past years and using the latest technology.
- If things go wrong, we will be working quickly to rectify all problems.
- Please be patient with our hard-working colleagues.
- Customers should check for latest travel information before they travel
How is Covid-19 affecting autumn?
- Reduced timetable in effect September to December, to ensure key operational safety measures can take place.
- Prioritising peak periods which are close to pre-Covid service levels.
- Operational colleagues and customers having to observe social distancing and other control measures.
- Additional road transport options being developed for key areas around schools etc to support train operation.
- We are encouraging customers to continue to follow Travel Safer messaging, avoiding busy periods where possible to ensure we can allow customers to socially distance during their journeys.
- The Welsh Government are urging people to only travel “when necessary” and to work from home where possible.