Wednesday 18 Oct 2017
HIGH POWERED LEAF BUSTING TRAINS TRAVEL “TWICE ROUND THE WORLD” TO KEEP SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY PASSENGERS MOVING
This week marks the start of our high powered leaf busting trains rolling out across the South Western Railway route - they will travel the equivalent of twice round the world over the next three months clearing leaves and debris.
The trains are part of Network Rail’s £4.5 million investment in the region to keep our tracks clear and our passengers moving through autumn.
From Waterloo to Weymouth, high pressured water jets mounted on the undercarriage of specially designed trains will clear debris and coat the rail in a unique sand-based gel. This means trains can better grip the tracks, reducing delays and improving safety.
With up to 70,0001 mature trees along our route, shedding around 210 million1 leaves over autumn, the leaf busting trains are in use 24 hours a day for three months.
Becky Lumlock, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “We invest £4.5 million across the South Western Railway route to keep our tracks clear and our passengers moving over autumn.
“Leaves and foliage on the line can cause the same conditions as black ice on the roads, and with thousands of mature trees on our route, it’s something we take seriously.
“That’s why our leaf busting, and our teams of track side workers, are out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to make sure our tracks are safe and free from debris.”
As part of our approach over autumn Network Rail also receives ‘adhesion forecasts’ from a specialist weather forecaster. This tells us where leaves are most likely to stick to the rails. Our world-leading intelligent infrastructure also monitors levels of electric current running through the track, which leaves and foliage can affect. All this means lineside staff can take targeted, prompt action to avoid delays to passengers.
Train drivers also receive refresher training in September using simulators to help them improve the skills needed to deal with ‘slippery’ rails.
Andy Mellors, Managing Director for South Western Railway, said: “We work extremely hard alongside our industry partners at Network Rail to help reduce delays caused by autumn conditions, in particular leaf-fall.
“That’s why we introduced minor adjustments to our timetable during autumn last week to take in to consideration these added seasonal challenges.
“Our drivers also adopt special driving techniques to make sure journeys are as safe and punctual as possible.”
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.