NI Railways tackling leaves on the line to keep trains moving

A special train is used.

TRANSLINK NI Railways are working hard to minimise disruption caused by leaves on the track which can cause problems at this time of year, similar to cars being affected by black ice.

Hundreds of tonnes of leaves fall onto  railway lines each autumn, which then compress under the weight of trains and make the tracks slippery.

This means trains need to accelerate gently and allow greater braking distances, leading to longer journey times.

Railway workers undertake additional line maintenance during the autumn to remove leaves from the railway and keep tracks clear and drivers undergo training in how to deal with adverse weather conditions.

NI Railways Head of Rail Infrastructure Engineering Jim Moore said: “We have teams working hard 24/7 to combat these conditions, to keep our services running smoothly.

“Our special Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) engineering train cleans the tracks with a high pressure water jet, before applying a layer of sand and gel – Sandite – to improve grip.

“This runs in addition to scheduled trains, many of which are equipped with leaf fall and low adhesion measures such as wheel slip protection and sanders.

“We invest heavily each year keeping around 300 miles of tracks clear during leaf fall season, including the purchase of around 60,000 litres of Sandite.

“We also take preventative measures earlier in the year, with tree and hedge cutting beside railways to try and limit the amount of leaves”.

Jim concluded: “Tackling low adhesion caused by leaf fall is just one part of our autumn and winter weather programme. Additional measures include the provision of points heaters which come on during low temperatures to prevent them from freezing.

“We would like to assure our customers that we do all we can to keep services running on time and minimise delays.

“We would urge passengers to check our social media channels, the Translink Journey Planner App and for up to date travel information”.

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