10 Sep 2017

How to limit downtime on your rail operations this winter

Railway lines at Sunset
  • Written By

    John Anderson, Rail Sector Manager

  • Published in

How contingency planning can limit downtime on your rail operations this winter

Our latest eGuide looks at how to ensure your rail operations run smoothly this winter with a comprehensive contingency plan.  This should be designed to cover all eventualities, from sharp temperature drops to power shortages or telecommunications failure.  The guide discusses how to minimise downtime and disruption, and achieve operational targets by planning ahead.  Our blog below summarises the key points.

A comprehensive contingency plan should cover all aspects of your rail operation, including:

  • Train stations
  • Telecommunications
  • Regional operating centres
  • Signalling
  • Tunnels and underground
  • Electrification
  • Points heating
  • Freight depots
  • Train care depots

Train stations

The start and end point of all customer journeys. But if the power goes down you'll be closing the doors to passengers as well as profit. Ensure operations continue to run smoothly with back-up rail energy generators and keep your passengers happy and the ticket machines busy. Make sure your contingency plan has an allocation for temporary generators and heating.


Your Fixed Telecommunications Network (FTN) is arguably the heart of your operations, communicating with stations, trains and all other sectors of your network. Keep it operating 24/7 with a contingency of temporary power generators - opt for canopied, containerised or road-tow sets. Factor in a remote monitoring service to ensure that when the generators kick in, they run at optimum efficiency.

Regional Operating Centres

If your FTN is the heart of operations then your regional operating centres (ROCs) are the brains of the outfit. Home to your IT infrastructure, including your server rooms, power and temperature control - contingency planning is vital. If the ambient temperature in your server rooms either drops or increases too rapidly, then your mainframe could fail. Ensure that your contingency plan includes back-up power generators, heating and cooling.


An uninterrupted power supply is vital when it comes to signalling – the safety of your crews and passengers relies on this. Make sure that your disaster recovery plan incorporates a power solution that includes is available 24/7 365 and includes remote monitoring to ensure continuity of supply.

Tunnels and underground

Tunnels and underground train tracks present their own set of challenges, especially in winter. Consider air ventilation support and temperature control solutions to keep the environment at an ambient temperature conducive to efficient operations.


The maintenance and back-up of your overhead electric cabling is another area that cannot afford to be overlooked. Ensure you have specialist power support providing back-up power for both your high voltage (HV) and low voltage (LV) requirements.

Points heating

Keep your trains running no matter how low temperatures drop with a points heating system that keeps the track surface free of snow and ice, and keeps your points moving freely. For smooth rail operations throughout the winter, factor in a points heating back-up power supply, via generator hire. A remote monitoring system will ensure optimal efficiency of operations, and will alert you if the power goes down and the tracks start to freeze.

Freight depots

As the amount of goods carried by rail across the UK continues to rise, ensuring a smooth operation at your rail freight depots is vital. Power failure can not only cost your operations, but can also cost the businesses relying on you to transport their freight efficiently. Ensure you provide DNO power supply support and have back-up power solutions in place.

Train care depots

Finally, the resting point for your rolling stock – where essential maintenance and repairs are carried out – your train care depot needs to be operational 24/7. Train downtime is revenue downtime. Ensure smooth operations around the clock with DNO power supply support, HV and LV power solutions and back-up heating and cooling.

Ensure all areas of your rail network are well maintained and have enough provision for back-up power and temperature control to ensure that your operations run smoothly this winter.