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Leaf busting trains brought in to cut delays on rail lines

PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 09 October 2019

Trains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn. Picture: Network Rail

Trains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn. Picture: Network Rail

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Trains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn.

Trains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn. Picture: Network RailTrains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn. Picture: Network Rail

Following months of planning, six leaf busting trains will now operate 24/7 to minimise disruption caused by leaves on the line.

Leaves falling cause problems as they stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a thin, slippery black layer on the rail which can affect braking distance and reduce traction and acceleration.

Mark Budden, Network Rail Anglia's route director, said: "We have looked at the data to identify where the hotspots are and are fully prepared to deal with leaves that fall onto the tracks.

"We're working with the train operators to prevent delays to trains. We're going to be working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to keep passengers moving."

Trains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn. Picture: Network RailTrains designed to blast leaves off railway lines are just one of a number of measures to keep passengers on the move this autumn. Picture: Network Rail

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The specialist rail head treatment trains (RHTT) will blast leaves off the track using high pressure water jets, then coat the rail with a gel which provides more grip to the train to prevent delays caused by slippery rails.

Network Rail will also deploy response teams across the route to carry out daily inspections to remove the build-up of leaves in a number of hotspots.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia's managing director, said: "We are acutely aware of the frustration and inconvenience felt by our passengers if things go wrong, so we are pleased to be taking action in partnership with Network Rail, making additional preparations to protect train services during what is traditionally a difficult period on the railway."

Rail passengers using Greater Anglia's intercity service between Norwich and London are being advised to check before they travel this autumn as some trains will leave earlier than usual until mid-December.

From Monday October 7 until Friday December 13, Greater Anglia intercity trains leaving Norwich, Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, and Manningtree before 7.30am will depart up to five minutes earlier between Monday and Friday.

The changes, which are made every year, are brought in to ensure that customers still arrive in London on time in the autumn, by allowing train drivers more time to brake and accelerate in the slippery conditions caused by compacted leaves.

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