Sparks fly as UK is hit by storms Dudley and Eunice
With the winds hardly died down from Storm Dudley, the UK is braced for Storm Eunice, an even more powerful weather system coming in off the Atlantic. The rail network has been especially hard hit, with all services suspended in Scotland on Wednesday and the same measures taken in Wales on Friday.
In a rare measure, London has been put on the Red Warning list – the highest level of meteorological alert – for the first time since 1987, the year still remembered as the Great Storm, when hurricane force winds brought lasting damage to the South East.
But even before that, the storm impacted rail. Network Rail, the UK infrastructure management agency, released this incredible shot (header picture) of a tree being blown down on the West Coast Main Line on Thursday (17 February). Remarkably, this was before the Meteorological Office issued a ‘red warning’ for the coming twenty-four hours.
Long weekend coming
The image of a tree contacting the overhead wires was captured by a Network Rail camera at Beattock Summit in Scotland, in the Dumfries and Galloway region. Beattock, well known to generations of railway workers, lies just thirty-minutes south of Glasgow and was immortalised in the WH Auden poem “Night Mail”. The summit was a challenge for steam hauled trains for over a century, and still requires skilled driving techniques to conquer. Freight traffic is often held in the passing loops at the summit.
With mainland Europe expected to be in the firing line again next week, the British Isles have already been experiencing the worst. All transport in the UK and Ireland has been affected already, and freight has not escaped the disruption. Network Rail teams have been out on the rails – particularly in the west of the UK, repairing damage and inspecting lines. With the even more powerful Storm Eunice approaching on Friday afternoon, hitting the south hardest – it is expected to be a long weekend for the track teams.
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