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How weather affects the railway

Find out why bad weather can cause delays on Gatwick Express trains and see the steps we take to minimise potential disruptions.

Autumn and winter can be a magical time of year with the Christmas holidays and New Year celebrations around the corner. But the autumn and winter weather can have an unwanted effect on Network Rail’s tracks and electrical power equipment causing delays and disruption to your train service.

Autumn and winter can bring with them cold, icy, snowy and slippery conditions as well as a large amount of leaf fall. These can have an effect on a train’s ability to take electrical power, on its wheels’ ability to grip the rails as well as on signalling equipment such as points.

Buckling rails

The hot weather can also affect the rails, which can expand, bend and even break in the heat.

We sometimes have to slow down trains to reduce pressure on parts of the line, which can disrupt services.

What we’re doing: Network Rail is on the case, and regularly repairs rails before the start of summer.


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Can’t stand the rain? Getting soggy or soaked to the skin is bad enough, but heavy rain can also lead to flooding and delays.

Flood water can damage equipment and cut power to the train, or wash away ballast (crushed stone) and weaken the track.

What we’re doing: Network Rail has flood defence teams and pumping stations ready to respond to any flood warnings. It has a programme of works aimed at flood prevention, for example by clearing drainage ditches and lifting up low-lying sections of track at risk from flooding.

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Fog can make it harder for our drivers to see signals, so they have to slow down to keep you safe. 

What we’re doing: We’re moving towards a new signalling system for inside the train cab, so our drivers won’t have to rely so much on outside signals.
High winds

Strong winds can blow branches, trees and debris onto the train track and pull down overhead power lines.

What we’re doing: Network Rail teams regularly inspect and clear the side of the track. And they’re reducing the gaps between the supports for overhead power lines in windy areas.

How will I know if my train journey is affected?

To check the latest information on live running information. You can also check our Twitter page @GatwickExpress

What are you and Network Rail doing to prevent autumn and winter weather having an impact on train services?

We work very closely with Network Rail to minimise the impact seasonal weather has on your train service. Network Rail, who own and maintain the track, signalling equipment and power supplies have special rail cleaning trains which run every night in autumn and winter cleaning the tracks. They also remotely monitor the temperatures of their equipment and have several Snow and Ice Treatment trains.

For more information and to see what more Network Rail are doing to help this:

Leaf fall information       Snow and ice information

Explore How weather affects the railway

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