Tuesday 31 Oct 2006


Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern
New techniques, new and better equipment and more people working round the clock than ever before will help keep rail passengers in Anglia on the move this Autumn. Leaves on the line are no joking matter for the thousands of rail workers and millions of commuters who battle with the effect Autumn has on train services. Network Rail's Route Director Jon Wiseman said: “Autumn and falling leaves are a challenge for railways the world over. The leaves form a mulch on the rails, which is as slippery as ice on the roads. And the same precautions have to be taken that you take in your car, braking and accelerating slowly, which can lead to delays. “We do everything possible to prepare for Autumn – and everything possible to deal with the effects when it arrives. We invest in the best techniques and equipment and use ‘leaf-busting’ teams around the clock to keep the railways running. And we target these huge resources at the leaf-fall hotspots, which we can predict by using the latest satellite technology.” Network Rail is investing £3 million in the Anglia region alone this year to tackle Autumn weather and has unveiled its arsenal for the annual battle with falling leaves in Anglia:
  • A 24-hour control centre manned by a team dedicated to tackling autumn
  • Six water-jetting trains shooting out water at an equivalent pressure of 1,000/bar (up to 1,000 times faster than the water coming out of your tap) will be getting rid of ‘leaf mulch’ across Anglia’s railway
  • 18 offices around the Anglia region fitted-out with ‘leaf busting’ equipment and working to identify problem areas
  • Three, two-man ‘leaf busting’ crews will be using rail head scrubbers, sand sticks and Natrusolve, which dissolves the leaf mulch
  • Traction gel (Sandite) applied to rails - approximately 450 miles of sandite laid every 24 hours around the Anglia region
  • The latest satellite navigation technology to reach hot-spots as soon as possible
  • Nine rail head treatment trains in operation in Anglia round the clock
Mr Wiseman added: “We’re working closely with the train operators to mitigate Autumn’s effects as far as possible and keep passengers moving.”

Notes to editors

Autumn costs the rail industry approximately £60 million per year, including: £10 million for vegetation management, £34 million for autumn train borne operations, £5 million for ‘hot spot’ teams and other staff/operational costs, £10 million for damage to trains and track from leaf fall Weather and seasonal factors account for 10% of all delay minutes across the network in any one year There are 21,000 miles of track nationally to keep clear there are six species of trees which cause particular problems. They are all deciduous, broad-leaved and thrive by the railway: Ash, Sycamore, Poplar, Lime, Sweet chestnut, Horse chestnut

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: