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Published on : Wednesday, October 19, 2016
This year, Network Rail and Greater Anglia are implementing enhanced plans and preparations, using new track-cleaning equipment and targeting known problem areas, to try to keep delays and disruption to a minimum. Some timetables have also been changed so that services can run smoothly during the autumn and winter months.
Autumn is traditionally a difficult time for the railways, bringing wet weather and leaf fall which creates mulch that sticks to the track and gets compressed and hardened by train wheels into a Teflon-like layer. This makes the track as slippery as black ice, so train wheels lose grip and in some cases become damaged. The mulch can also cause the electrical circuits on the tracks to fail, which can also cause delays.
A number of measures have been put in place by Network Rail to combat the problem of slippery rails, with six specialist trains in circulation to clean the tracks and a programme of targeted vegetation removal.
Both companies have jointly invested in a specially-adapted Land Rover, known as a Sand Rover, which will clean and treat the track between Marks Tey and Sudbury, which specialist trains cannot reach. The ‘Sand Rover’ can be driven onto the railway where rail wheels are then lowered onto the rail, turning it into a rail vehicle.
Greater Anglia has also invested in a mobile wheel lathe at its Crown Depot in Norwich, to fix some of the train wheels damaged as a result of slippery rails without the need to send trains away to other locations. As a result any damaged trains will be out of service for a shorter period, resulting in less disruption for passengers.