Despite an unseasonably warm October, cold weather is on its way. And if the past two years are anything to go by, the UK is on-track to expect another extreme winter.
After last year’s winter chaos the rail sector has a lot of making up to do, with passengers remembering service disruptions, cancellations and a general sense of bad organisation.
However, forewarned is forearmed, and it is fair to say that the industry seems more prepared to deal with whatever the weather can throw at us this year and maintain a good service.
However, what good is it if the trains are running, but winter maintenance does not extend beyond the track? If passengers can’t get onto the platform safely, is there going to be anyone there to get on the trains?
As well as access roads, it is also important to ensure that the winter maintenance of car parks and pavements is taken care of as these will not usually fall under the remit of the local authority.
Train and station operators find it more cost-effective to hire in specialist equipment from companies such as the Quattro Group, rather than have their own plant. Usually, this consists of a base carrier vehicle which can be fitted with various attachments.
Multicar Fumo carrier vehicles
In compact areas such as station approaches it is vital that the carrier vehicle is small enough to manoeuvre into tight spots, but powerful enough to get the job done.
The Multicar Fumo ticks all the boxes and, as their advertising claims, is a good combination of in FUnction and MObility.
It is very compact, only 2.20 metres high and 1.62 metres wide, but still packs quite a punch with a gross pulling capacity of up to 7.5 tons and a braked trailer load of up to 3.5 tons. Despite this, it has a turning radius of less than 5.5 metres, making it ideal for operation in tight spaces.
When it comes to attachments there is plenty of choice. A Multicar Fumo fitted with snow plough and gritter attachments is an ideal addition to the winter maintenance fleet.
Fiedler snow ploughs
Fiedler snow plough attachments are able to handle quite severe snowfall, helping minimise disruption and maximise safety. Because of its unique rounded-off shape, the plough is perfect for clearing wet snow, powdery snow and even snow drifts.
Two pivoting cylinders control the blade’s turn, allowing movement up to 32° to the left or right so that the operator can roll the snow away on either side..
The cutting edge of the plough blade is a durable, abrasion resistant plastic which gives long life in service while minimizing damage to the underlying road surface.
Giletta Spreader Attachments
One of the major concerns in winter months is icy conditions, which can send both vehicles and pedestrians on a slippery slope to disaster. Gritting is the answer, and Giletta spreader attachments ensure that swift and comprehensive gritting is possible in even the harshest conditions.
Grit is fed out on a rubber belt running across a stainless steel base which ensures uniform coverage. A rotating blade acts as a grinder, crushing any large lumps of material and ensuring that the flow of grit remains constant.
As well as areas surrounding the station, it is also vital to consider the safety of passengers when they get inside the building. Many stations have outside platforms that will have been exposed to the elements, potentially leaving covered in snow and ice covered, and very treacherous.
In most cases there is no way for large machines to access the platform itself, so the job often falls to a member of station staff with a thick pair of gloves, a shovel, a broom and the promise of a hot cup of tea afterwards.
This is heavy work, and can lead to concerns over the health and safety of the individuals involved.
In these conditions, pedestrian-operated snow clearance equipment comes into its own! The Tracmaster unit, when used by an experienced operator, is the simple way to clear snow from a platform quickly, effectively and, above all, safely.
The compact machine is able to operate with three snow clearing implements, all of which are easily switchable depending on which is most suitable for the task.
The snow blower can clear snow up to 30cm deep, blowing it a distance of up to 15cm away in either direction.
The snow plough is more effective at cutting a path through snow up to 20cm deep. Able to be angled to either side, the plough directs the snow away, leaving a clear pathway which can then be gritted for extra safety.
The snow brush is most effective at removing snow up to 10cm deep – leaving a clear and safe pathway for pedestrians to walk on immediately.
As well as the health and safety aspect that have to be considered when dealing with platform areas, it is also important to consider the potential damage that can be done to such areas by wintery weather when left untreated.
Snow and ice can cause structural damage to buildings and floor coverings.
Areas such as exposed outside platforms are at risk of experiencing the ‘pothole’ effect that can be seen on roads after severe weather, when melted snow has leaked into small cracks and frozen, forcing them open and enlarging them into pits and craters. Repair cost of can run into thousands of pounds.
Clearing snow promptly, whilst not a complete answer to this problem, certainly helps minimise danger to the public and reduces the cost of such damage.
The Quattro Group’s Winter Maintenance division operates a large fleet of municipal equipment that is perfectly designed to handle all essential winter maintenance requirements.
A nationwide presence in 13 depots across the UK allows regional teams to manage requirements locally, helping to keep reaction time to a minimum and ensuring that both the financial and environmental impact is kept as low as possible.
Now all we need is some snow!