Friday 15 Oct 2004
WORKING TO ‘LEAF OUT’ AUTUMN DELAYS
- 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.
· 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)
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