Technology

Prepare agency rolls out new leaf-busting know-how to ease autumn delays

New technology to tackle slippery rails
New know-how to sort out slippery rails

New know-how to fight leaves on the road is being deployed by Britain’s second largest practice operator.

Northern, which runs almost 2,000 every day companies, is becoming a system to 16 passenger trains which tackles slippery rails by spraying water onto them.

The Water-Trak know-how can be used on trains working between Leeds, Harrogate and York, in addition to between Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull and Scarborough.

The scene after two trains collided in Salisbury
The Salisbury practice derailment of October 2021 was brought on by a South Western Railway service slipping on crushed leaves (Steve Parsons/PA)

Leaves trigger main disruption each autumn after they keep on with damp rails and turn out to be compressed by practice wheels.

This creates a clean, slippery layer just like black ice on roads, lowering trains’ grip.

Pace restrictions are imposed in an try to cut back accidents such because the crash between two trains outdoors a tunnel close to Salisbury, Wiltshire on October 31 final 12 months which left 13 passengers and one driver requiring hospital therapy.

A South Western Railway practice slipped on crushed leaves, inflicting it to slip previous a cease sign and smash into the facet of a Nice Western Railway service.

Rail traces have historically been cleaned utilizing railhead therapy trains (RHTT) which deploy high-pressure water jets adopted by a gel containing sand and metal grain to spice up adhesion.

However RHTTs are costly to run so are primarily restricted to busy inter-city traces, that means some routes are left untreated.

Trains cease safely in heavy rain, so Water-Trak recreates these circumstances by shelling out a small quantity of water when slippery rails are detected.

This will enhance braking efficiency at a decrease value than utilizing RHTTs.

Trials of the know-how have been carried out on two of Northern’s Class 319 trains in passenger service since October final 12 months.

The operator’s seasonal enchancment supervisor Rob Cummings mentioned rolling out the system to extra trains is “the subsequent step to find an answer to difficult autumn circumstances”.

He went on: “One of many largest dangers to our efficiency throughout October and November is leaves on the road, however by serving to to develop new modern know-how we goal to ship the easiest service for our passengers.”

Water-Trak co-founder John Cooke mentioned: “Leaves on the road could appear to be a little bit of a joke, or an excuse for unhealthy efficiency.

“However really, it’s a serious difficulty for the rail trade.

“We’re actually excited to be working with Northern to indicate how Water-Trak will help to unravel the age-old downside of leaves on the road.”

Some 10 million timber line Britain’s railway, dropping hundreds of tonnes of leaves onto tracks each autumn.

The rail trade’s annual invoice for autumn-related points has been estimated at £345 million.

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