All of us are very aware of the impact the current extreme weather has had on many aspects of our lives. Southern parts of the UK in particular have seen homes flooded, roads closed, businesses disrupted and schools affected.
Our rail network has not been immune to these very challenging conditions. I wanted to write and update you on some of the steps we are taking to give you the best service we can under these difficult circumstances.
Firstly, despite some of the worst conditions the rail network has faced, more than 90% of our network remains open for business. We are continuing to run many hundreds of trains every day to get people to work and make sure they can go about their daily lives.
Services on these routes are running well and that is testament to the hard work of our engineers, operations teams and customer service employees.
Many of our people are working through the night to carry out preventative checks on the 4,600 signals, nearly 1,400 sets of points and over 2,000 kilometres of track on our network.
We are continuing to monitor weather conditions round the clock and liaise very closely with the Government, the Met Office, Environment Agency, local authorities and other key services
For everyone who uses the rail network, even in areas currently unaffected by the heavy rain and flooding, our advice as always is to check before you travel. We are providing up-to-the-minute updates on our website southwesttrains.co.uk, and through our Twitter feed @SW_Trains.
As you may recall, before Christmas, the rail network on the Isle of Wight was badly damaged because offlooding. There were substantial landslips at 20 locations and services were suspended for two weeks whilstengineers and staff made repairs. S
Some 770 tonnes of ballast, the equivalent of 577 average cars, was delivered to the Island by ferry and used to repair the damage. The good news is that despite further storms last week and damage to a different part of the network, these repairs have remained intact and have stood up well against the current bad weather.
There are, however, some specific routes where flooding and damage caused by the heavy rain and high winds continues to have an impact on our network. For some of our customers this has meant longer journeys, alternative transport or no service in the most extreme cases. We are sorry for the disruption this has caused.
We are also very aware that, even when the weather turns for the better, our network will face the ongoing impact of the wettest winter in 250 years.
You may remember that many of the country’s roads were affected by problems with potholes for many months after the harsh winter of 2010.
Similarly, the cumulative effect of the heavy rain since before Christmas on land around the railway, means it is very likely some of our trains may need to operate at lower speeds as a precaution, leading to longer journey times on parts of our network in the months ahead.