Trains Continue to Struggle With Freezing Cold
Has day-to-day freezing ice and snow become the new normal? It seems to have been going on for ever. First it was Snowvember, now De-icember, in what has been the worst weather conditions in living memory. With climatologists (such as former government chief scientific advisor David King) suggesting that cold winters come in multiple years, we may need to get used to these bitterly cold conditions.
Although we appear to be getting better now at keeping things moving during the severe weather (at least North of the border), trains still seem to be suffering in particular with the extreme cold.
As the mercury drops to around the -10C mark in Edinburgh, Scotrail has been continuing to test 'skirts' and hot air blowers on trains to help remove snow and ice from the undercarriages.
On its web site Scotrail said that it was having to repair and service trains that had been damaged by frozen blocks of packed snow and ice falling from undercarriages and bouncing back upwards. Some trains will have fewer carriages as a result of the ongong repairs and safety checks.
The train company also says it is doubling the number of high pressure water lances at depots to remove compacted ice and boosting the ambient heating in all its depots.
Scotrail has brought in over 60 contractors to help keep stations clear of snow and to work on trains overnight. Passengers may also have noticed railway staff are more visible at key stations such as Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Queen Street and Aberdeen. The Scotrail tweeter's fingers must be burning from fielding the rush of public enquiries about which trains are running.
In spite of these measures, services are still being disrupted and cancelled. Yesterday, passengers from Edinburgh Waverley to London were asked to delay their journey for a day due to problems with overhead powerlines on the route (it appears to be back up and running today). As I write, Scotrail's Journeychecker - usually the first port of call for anyone taking the train - is alerting travellers to a number of delays.
For example, trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street are running on a reduced, half hourly service and the service to Perth via Fife has been cancelled (the alternative route from Edinburgh to Inverness is still operational).
Edinburgh Airport's up and running, but still feeling the knock-on effects of the shutdown at Heathrow Airport.
Of course, I expect that no sooner have I finished dotting the last i's on this blog entry that this will all change again.