Friday 15 Oct 2004


Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western
Planning and preparation for Autumn in Wales and the Marches has stepped up a gear ready for the hundreds of thousands of leaves that will fall on the railway over the next ten weeks.  What was once regarded as a joke is now recognised as a serious performance and safety issue for railways across the world. Peter Leppard, Network Rail’s Acting Western Route Director, said: “Although we cannot control the elements, we are constantly striving to find new ways of addressing the challenge of leaf fall.  We will be doing all we can to keep services as reliable and punctual as possible.”   When leaves fall or are blown onto the rails and are compressed by passing trains, they create a thin, black ‘Teflon’ like layer on the rail, similar to black ice on the road.  It is this coating that can cause problems for trains, not only when braking, but also when pulling away from stations, which could lead to train delays.  The main plan of attack is to get the leaves off the lines as quickly as possible, giving them less chance to settle. Peter Leppard added: “We don’t expect to eliminate the problems that leaf fall causes, but each year we are getting better at mitigating its affects.  We can never beat Mother Nature, but we, and our colleagues in the railway industry, are determined to work together to deliver the best possible service.” Network Rail has invested £3 million on the Western route to tackle the problems caused by Autumn and plans to treat 172 sites per day by train.  Initiatives include:        ·         Frequent leaf fall and wind throw forecasts provided by the Met Office throughout Autumn, in addition to daily weather forecasts ·         Extreme Weather Action Teams (EWATs) placed throughout the country ·         Proactive leaf fall checks throughout the night ·         Extensive vegetation management programme ·         A rail head treatment train based at Cardiff that covers the Valleys, one based at Margam, near Port Talbot, that works West Wales and another in the West Midlands that covers the Cambrian route (see Editors’ Notes) ·         A standby sandite fitted locomotive at Newport (see Editors’ Notes)

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 -Western route
07730 354394

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: