Travel Updates


Lightning Strikes

How lightning strikes can cause delays - and what the industry is doing to reduce their effect

Lightning strikes damaged rail infrastructure an average of 192 times each year between 2010 and 2013, with each strike leading to 361 minutes of delays. In addition, 58 trains a year were cancelled due to damage by lightning.

When lightning strikes a rail, the high voltage can damage the sensitive electronic signalling equipment. As the signalling system fails safe, when a component is damaged all signals in the area turn red and trains must stop.

How the industry is reducing delays caused by lightning strikes

  • Installing “surge arrest” equipment to prevent lightning strikes from damaging signalling equipment
  • Trialling a system which accurately identifies the location of lightning strikes almost immediately, enabling deployment of staff to the site more quickly and reducing the impact on train services
  • Using historic data to predict which areas are at the most risk of lightning strikes and ensure that stores are fully stocked with parts which are likely to be damaged
  • Until the damaged parts are replaced and tested, the signaller will keep trains moving by making direct contact with the driver of every train passing the affected area
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Last updated:   19 August 2014