Travel Updates


Lineside Fire

How fires along the railway cause delays - and what the industry is doing to reduce them

During prolonged periods of dry weather, the risk of fires near the railway increases. Fires normally occur on warm days in areas that are fully exposed to the sun. Grassy areas with dry or dead vegetation and areas with a build up of dry, easily flammable litter are particularly at risk.

Fires start for a number of reasons; discarded cigarettes and matches, arson attempts, electrical faults and even sparks from steam trains on heritage routes.

Smoke reduces visibility and fires can damage signalling equipment and property along the track, severely disrupting train services.

What the industry is doing to prevent lineside fires

  • Continually developing the long term vegetation management plan to reduce the risks
  • During hot weather, litter clearance programmes are arranged and staff proactively report on any build up of rubbish along the tracks
  • Track workers are equipped with fire extinguishers when they do “hot work” such as welding
  • Make sure that grinding trains, which generate a lot of sparks when they re-shape worn rails, have ample water on board and operators have had training about fire risks
  • Work with heritage train operators to decide whether it is safe to allow steam trains to run during hot weather
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Last updated:   16 January 2017