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Flooding Tracks and Proper Responses

What to Do When Your Train Tracks Flood

Flooding, heavy rains, and hurricanes are common occurrences in many parts of the United States. When flooding happens, many forms of infrastructure are heavily impacted – railroads and train tracks included. Many sections of train tracks are below ground level, in tunnels and cuttings. Others are flat on the ground with limited drainage functions, making them susceptible to water collection.

Since many tracks use electricity for power, a functional flooded track poses serious health and safety risks to railroad staff, passengers, and passerby. When your train tracks flood, it is important to act calmly, quickly, and logically.

Cease or Slow Down Service Immediately

When your tracks flood and water rises above the rails, an electric-powered train should not travel over them normally. As soon as you know about flooding on the tracks, slow down the train’s speed. This will protect the train from further damage from the tracks – flooding can cause short circuits, shutting off power if the rail is live and conductive.

Depending upon the severity of the flood, you may need to cease the train’s service immediately to protect the train, the rails, and the passengers aboard.

Make a Clear System-Wide Announcement

Severe flooding on the tracks will require your train to cease service immediately, especially in cases where the water rises above the rails. If you are operating a passenger train, this may cause significant delays to people’s travel times and cause rifts between the train company and the passengers.

In this case, you will need to make a clear and calm system-wide announcement immediately. If your company has an intercom system, instruct conductors to make the announcement over the intercom. Use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to broadcast the news as well. The more people who know about the issue beforehand, the less potential disruptions for uninformed passengers.

In your announcements, make sure you include:

  • An explanation of the issue
  • The name or numbers of the train(s) affected
  • If the service is delayed or stopping altogether
  • What options passengers have, both on board the train and those waiting for the train
  • The time estimate for the repair, once you know how long it will take. For example, your system-wide flooding intercom announcement could say:“ Attention [rail company name] passengers: We are experiencing flooding on the tracks and have to stop service immediately. We apologize for the inconvenience…”After announcing the flooding hazard, tell your passengers what their options are. Will your train stop at the next station? Should passengers remain on the train or disembark? How long will the repair take? Your social media announcement could say:“ Attention [company name] passengers: Service on the [train name or number] has ceased immediately due to flooding on the tracks. Thank you for your patience while we resolve the issue.” Invest in Flood Management Infrastructure. Heavy rains, hurricanes, and flooding are becoming increasingly common across the country. If your area is prone to flooding, your company should consider investing in flood management infrastructure. Installing an effective drainage system, examining the flooding potential of your tracks, and re-installing tracks, and signaling equipment on higher ground can reduce the risk of another system shutdown. To learn more about optimizing your rail system to its maximum potential, contact GTG Technologies about our rail management software today.


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