Special trains will run up and down the Weymouth-Waterloo line to stop the track freezing up this winter.

They will spray anti-icing fluid to stop ice building up on the electrical conductor rails which power trains on the network. Special heating strips have also been installed on the conductor rail in high-risk areas.

Network Rail says low temperatures can also cause points to freeze up, preventing trains from accessing certain routes or platforms. It will use heaters on high-risk points and has installed NASA-grade insulation to keep them in working order.

South Western Railway will also be running ‘ghost’ trains at night, to help keep the tracks clear of snow and ice, and will be spraying external passenger doors with de-icer to stop them jamming.

David Dickson, chief operating officer for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: “We have been working hard with South Western Railway, and our other train operators, to prepare for cold weather on this route so we can keep our passengers moving when the temperature falls.

“Our fleet of multi-purpose vehicles will travel a huge distance – more than two-and-a-half times around the world - to reduce the impact of the weather on train services from London Waterloo and down to the south coast.

“We will also have extra teams of people on the ground to respond to incidents and carry out regular inspections of our infrastructure throughout the winter period.”

A network of monitoring stations, and detailed forecasts, will also provide real-time weather data to inform local action plans during adverse weather. The forecasts cover not just the weather but how the conditions will impact on specific railway infrastructure such as the tracks and conductor rails.