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
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.
Every day, there are more than 4.7 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.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.