Merseyrail statement regarding today’s services

Merseyrail has issued a statement regarding today’s services. They say that ice has formed on the third rail which supplies the electricity needed for the trains to operate. If Ice forms on the third rail, electrical contact cannot be made, therefore no power is able to get to the trains.

This is the statement in full:

Throughout yesterday, the forecasted weather overnight and into this morning showed a combination of snow, sleet and rain which together causes problems for our electrified rail, which powers our trains. Rain and sleet can wash anti-ice away, while snow and sleet can create a new layer of ice on top of the rail, which electricity cannot pass through and therefore trains are unable to run.

As a result of this, we believed it was very unlikely that trains would be able to operate this morning and therefore made the difficult decision not to run our timetabled service. We had hoped that this advance notice would give passengers enough time to make alternative travel arrangements. 

This morning, specialised trains were deployed on to the network to assess lines and lay anti-ice. If successful, our own trains would run along the lines, without passengers, to determine if it was safe to begin a passenger service. It would not have been possible to complete this prior to the first timetabled train at approximately 05:30 due to forecasted weather continuing into the morning.  

During the test runs this morning, the test trains did become stuck, meaning if we had committed to running a timetabled passenger service, there would have been an extremely high number of cancellations on the network throughout the morning. 

The primary cause of disruption to services is a build-up of ice on the third rail, which is often worsened by the rail temperature being much lower than the air temperature. This ice can damage trains as electricity tries and fails to pass through it. Nearly one third of our fleet of trains were damaged during the freezing New Year conditions due to a build-up of ice.  

Lines are currently being assessed and if successful a passenger service will be re-introduced throughout the morning and we expect to return to our timetable from approximately midday.  

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused. Please continue to check @merseyrail on Twitter and the Merseyrail website for the latest updates before travelling.  

Main image: Library Archive, Merseyrail