The rail network in Scotland is busy preparing for the autumn to keep passengers moving on time.
2020 saw Scotlands Railway’s successfully carry out autumn preparation, which meant that train punctuality hit 91.3% in comparison to 86.1% during the autumn of 2019.
In a bid to maintain and even improve the figures for 2021, Scotland’s Railway is launching extra measures and specialist treatments with more on-track-kit to maintain the rails.
As autumn arrives, trees lose thousands of tonnes of leaves onto the network, which causes an issue as wet leaves on the tracks soon become compressed into a slippery pulp which can make trains lose traction, making it harder to stop quickly.
These conditions can lead to trains overshooting signals or platforms, which can impact on signalling systems by making it harder to track the location of trains on the network.
Starting this week and running around the clock until December, Scotlands Railway will run their fleet of specialist rail-head treatment trains which use high-pressure water jets to clean the tracks ahead of coating them with a special adhesive.
Over 110 locations on the network now have special ‘traction gel applicators’ installed, which will help train wheels to keep their grip on the tracks alongside teams of leaf-busting engineers who can quickly handle problem sites.
Engineers in depots will also be working to clear leaf debris from train wheels whilst Scotlands Railway’s control room will use specialised weather reports to locate precise conditions which will impact on leaf fall and pushing resources to where they are most needed.
Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland route director, said: “Leaves on the line can pose a real danger to the safe operation of the railway – affecting a train’s wheels in a similar way to how black ice affects your car – and our teams will be working around-the-clock to make sure we keep passengers moving safely this autumn.
“We will be deploying special treatment trains to clean rails throughout autumn and have additional engineers ready to respond to problems as the occur.
“Last year we significantly reduced autumn-related delays for our customers and we are determined to continue to improve performance across Scotland’s Railway this autumn too.”
David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said: “Each autumn, the weather creates challenging and difficult conditions across Scotland’s Railway as leaves fall on the line and make the rails dangerously slippy, and this year is no different.
“That’s why, along with our colleagues at Network Rail Scotland, we’re working flat out to keep rails and train wheels clean to help minimise the impact the autumn weather has on our customers’ journeys.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to quickly address any problems that arise, to take preventative action wherever possible, and make sure that our customers are given good quality information.”
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