Are trains still running in the snow?

‘We are slowly returning the railway to service this morning,’ says Network Rail Kent & Sussex

Lucy Thackray
Monday 12 December 2022 10:41 GMT
Kent trains have been affected by the flurries
Kent trains have been affected by the flurries (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

UK rail services are seeing disruption on Monday morning, following heavy snowfall overnight in areas including London.

But which lines are worst affected? Here’s what we know so far.


Kent is seeing some of the most train delays and cancellations, with Network Rail Kent and Sussex tweeting: “There is major disuption across #Kent this morning, with some @Se_Railway lines suspended. Please do not travel.

“Our people struggled to get to incidents overnight with heavy snow across the route and we are slowly returning the railway to service this morning.”

Southeastern similarly issued a “Do not travel” warning for this morning. Service is expected to improve as the day goes on.

Tracks in the county saw ice on the tracks, resulting in stalled trains, with customers advised to check Southeastern Rail and National Rail Enquiries online before travelling.

The following lines are suspended:

  • Woolwich Line - Special timetable will be in place between Cannon St and Dartford
  • Bexleyheath Line - Special timetable will be in place between Cannon St and Dartford
  • Sidcup Line - Special timetable will be in place between Charing Cross and Dartford
  • Grove Park Line - Expected to be closed until at least 11.00 because of snow and ice
  • Hayes Line - Expected to be closed until at least 12.00 because of snow and ice
  • Hastings Line - Expected to be closed between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings until at least 15.00, because of a signal fault, as well as snow, ice and fallen trees on the line
  • Medway Valley Line - Expected to be closed all day because of snow and ice
  • Sheerness Line - Expected to be closed all day because of snow and ice

Trains have started later on the following routes, but services are expected to be severely disrupted in the morning:

  • Bromley South Line
  • Sole Street Line - No services between Faversham and Dover via Canterbury East
  • Maidstone East Line (services between Maidstone East and London Charing Cross will not be able to run all day)
  • Paddock Wood Line - No services running from London towards Tonbridge until at least 11:00
  • High speed line via Ashford International
  • High speed line via Gravesend


In London, which has seen heavy drifts of snow, National Rail has said that Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southern services could see disruption until 3pm.

Most Gatwick Express services are cancelled, while Southern and Thameslink will still serve Gatwick Airport, but with delays.

There is no service between Littlehampton/Barnham and Hove; no Thameslink trains from Wimbledon/Sutton to London; and no service between Redhill and Tonbridge and London Blackfriars to Orpington/Sevenoaks.

Delays, cancellations and short-notice changes will also affect a number of trains on the Hitchin to Peterborough route and East Grinstead line.

On the London Underground, all Tube lines are disrupted this morning except for the Waterloo and City line, while the new Elizabeth Line and trams are also reporting a good service.

Commuters are being warned to check their journey before travelling to avoid disruption.

Surrey and East Sussex

Surrey and East Sussex have also seen between 4 and 9cm of snow overnight.

Network Rail Wessex - covering Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire - advised customers to check before setting off for their train, adding “we have run snow and ice trains to clear the network, so services are moving”.

Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and Southern have all seen disruption on Monday morning.

Network Rail said: “To allow Network Rail to check that the rails are clear of snow and ice, which can prevent trains from drawing power from the electric rail, the first trains in each direction on all routes will be cancelled. We also have many trains in the wrong location after last night’s disruption, which will cause further cancellations to services across the network.”

South West

South Western reported minor disruption to most of its services on Monday morning, with warnings of “a problem under investigation at the depot at Feltham” meaning fewer trains are able to run. “Train services running through this station may be cancelled. Disruption is expected until 12.00 12/12,” the operator expanded.


It follows the coldest UK temperatures of the year, with parts of Scotland recording a low of -15.7C overnight.

Network Rail Scotland advised: “We’re dealing with signalling faults in several areas this morning, meaning we’re having a challenging start to the day. We’re sorry if your journey is being affected. Please do check your journey before you leave the house.”

GWR did not report any cancellations but did warn: “It’s icy in some areas on our network today. Please take extra care getting to the station, on the platforms and boarding trains.”

Why does snow affect trains?

A statement on the National Rail Enquiries website said: “Snow and ice can cause serious problems for the railway.

“Particularly at risk are areas where trains move more slowly, such as the approach to stations and points. Snow can get compacted into solid ice which clogs up points and prevents them from working, and ice can coat the electrified rail, preventing trains from drawing the power they need to run.

“Wind can cause snow to drift: if drifts reach 30cm, trains cannot run safely unless they’re fitted with snowploughs. Heavy snow can cause branches to break off trees which can damage overhead wires and block the track.

“Sheets of ice can damage passing trains when they become dislodged and the steel rails can even freeze together if they become too cold. The system is designed to ‘fail safe’, so any problem turns signals in the area to red and trains cannot pass through.

“Winter conditions can affect trains too, with ice build up causing problems including jamming doors.”

What are travellers saying?

Commuters and leisure travellers took to social media to complain about the UK “grinding to a halt” in the face of snow.

“Snow is so beautiful today - London transformed. But I find it fascinating that UK grinds to a halt with a little (predicted in forecast!) cold weather. Tubes not running, trains cancelled, buses packed, Uber fares surging... Where is that famous Blitz spirit?” wrote Dan Roberts.

“Why are all trains cancelled? There is barely any snow and minimal frost,” wrote Claire Maycock in a post to Southern Rail.

What are my rights if my train is cancelled?

If your train is cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions, you can apply for a refund via the train operator or website you bought the ticket from.

The travel chaos comes ahead of a week of train strikes, scheduled by the RMT Union for 13 to 16 December.

Aviation has also seen disruption between Sunday and Monday, with Gatwick and Stansted having to pause operations to clear their runways.

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