Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Bosses' Masterplan to Beat Leaves on the Line: Spray Glue from Trains

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Bosses' Masterplan to Beat Leaves on the Line: Spray Glue from Trains

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Political Reporter

SPECIALIST trains will spread glue over tracks on the Piccadilly line to try to stop the annual commuter nightmare of "leaves on the line".

Each autumn, hundreds of journeys are disrupted across London when leaf fall reduces the traction between trains and the track.

One in two trains on the Piccadilly line were taken out of service last November when wheels locked due to low adhesion, or "slippery rail" as it is known in the rail industry.

This year two new trains will spread sticky Sandite on the 44-mile line which is one of the main links to Heathrow to try to keep trains running on time. Nigel Holness, London Under-ground's director of network operations, said: "Following disruption for Piccadilly line customers in previous years due to leaf fall, we are determined to learn from past experiences and employ every measure possible to tackle the issue effectively this year. This includes introducing two specialist engineering trains designed to improve rail adhesion, and carrying out a significant trackside vegetation clearance programme which is already nearing completion."

Vegetation clearance will try to reduce the volume of leaves falling onto the track. When leaves fall on the line they become compacted onto the rails by the weight of passing trains. This coats the line and makes it slippery.

The loss of friction between wheels and rail means braking distances are considerably longer, and in extreme cases the wheels lock and become so worn down they are not safe to use.

The "leaves on the line" problem costs the industry millions of pounds a year.

The two rail adhesion trains nicknamed RATs will travel over the line when needed and spread Sandite, which is a combination of sand, aluminium and glue. This increases friction between the rail and wheels. …

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