Train Company Introduces Water Spray Technology To Cope With Autumnal Delays Of “Leaves On The Line” | UK News
Leaves on the track disrupting train service promise to be a thing of the past for many more travelers as new technology is rolled out by a major rail operator.
Northern, which operates nearly 2,000 daily services, is fitting 16 passenger trains with a system that combats slippery rails by spraying water on them.
Water-Trak technology is used on trains running between Leeds, Harrogate and York and between Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull and Scarborough.
Leaves cause widespread problems each fall when they cling to damp rails and are compacted by train wheels.
It creates a slick, slippery layer similar to icy roads and reduces traction for trains.
Speed limits are imposed to reduce accidents like that Collision between two trains outside a tunnel near Salisbury, Wiltshire on October 31 last year, which required 13 passengers and a driver to be hospitalized.
A South Western Railway train skidded on crushed leaves causing it to skid past a stop signal and slammed into the side of a Great Western Railway service.
Railroad lines have traditionally been cleaned with Railhead Treatment Trains (RHTT), which use high-pressure water jets, followed by a gel containing sand and steel grit to increase grip.
However, these are expensive to operate and so are generally limited to busy main routes, leaving other routes untreated.
Trains safely stop in heavy rain, so Water-Trak recreates these conditions by dispensing a small amount of water when slippery rails are detected.
This can improve braking performance at a lower cost than using RHTTs.
Trials of the technology have been running on two Northern Class 319 trains in passenger service since October last year.
The operator’s seasonal improvement manager Rob Cummings said introducing the system to more trains was “the next step in finding a solution to difficult autumn conditions”.
He added: “One of the biggest risks to our performance in October and November is leaves on the track, but by helping to develop new innovative technologies we aim to offer our passengers the very best service.”
Water-Trak co-founder John Cooke said: “Leaves on the line may seem like a joke or an excuse for poor performance. But actually this is a big problem for the railway industry.”
Around 10 million trees line Britain’s railways, dropping thousands of tonnes of leaves onto the tracks each autumn, giving the industry an estimated seasonal bill of £345million.