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Railway extreme weather plan to avoid repeat of ‘Beast from the East’ disruption

PUBLISHED: 13:06 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 22 January 2019

Greater Anglia and Network Rail have produced a new plan to help rail services cope with extreme weather like that seen in the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia and Network Rail have produced a new plan to help rail services cope with extreme weather like that seen in the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater Anglia

Archant

A new plan to help rail services in Norfolk and Suffolk cope with extreme weather and avoid the scale of during last year’s Beast from the East disruption has been drawn up.

Greater Anglia and Network Rail have produced a new plan to help rail services cope with extreme weather like that seen in the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater AngliaGreater Anglia and Network Rail have produced a new plan to help rail services cope with extreme weather like that seen in the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater Anglia

The Extreme Weather Incident Management Plan details the changes rail operator Greater Anglia will make to train services, liaising with Network Rail, during future heavy snow, as well as other extreme weather conditions such as high winds, floods and high temperatures.

Last February’s extreme cold spell, dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ saw Greater Anglia cancel more than 1,000 services across the region when heavy snowfall was predicted. The cancellations were branded “over the top” by some passenger groups.

The rail operator said it had drawn on experience and customer feedback from the Beast from the East to produce the new plan that focuses on communicating any changes to train services as far in advance as possible.

Greater Anglia staff clearing snow from platforms during the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater AngliaGreater Anglia staff clearing snow from platforms during the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater Anglia

The plan will also ensure stocks of spare parts and additional staff – including staff who are usually office based – to attend stations and provide extra help if needed.

Network Rail has also overhauled its winter strategy for 2019 by splitting the Anglia route into three separate regions. Reduced services, speed restrictions or train cancellations will if possible only apply to locations predicted for extreme weather, not across the whole Anglia network.

Network Rail’s chief operating officer for Anglia Steve Hooker said: “Working more closely with train operators and listening to feedback, we have learned the lessons from last year and have revised our approach.

Staff de-icing train doors  during the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater AngliaStaff de-icing train doors during the 'Beast from the East'. Picture: Greater Anglia

“Our contingency measures will be more localised and we won’t take a one size fits all approach across the entire Anglia route, helping more passengers to plan their journeys even in tough conditions.”

A ‘low speed timetable’ has also been developed for when more widespread extreme weather means Network Rail does need to impose network-wide speed restrictions. Once the decision has been taken, it will be implemented for the entire day, and people will be advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Greater Anglia’s operations interface manager Matthew Shuter said: “The new plan makes it easy for staff across the business to see what actions need to be taken in a range of different scenarios and this will make it easier to communicate any changes to customers and keep a consistent, though in some cases limited, level of service in operation where possible.”

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