Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 04:39 GMT 05:39 UK


UK

War on 'leaves on the line'

Leaves on the line infuriate commuters when they cause delays

Satellite technology, dawn patrols and water cannon are among the weapons to be used to fight this year's battle against autumn leaves on railway lines.

Last year, an estimated 3,000 hours of delays was caused by leaves falling onto the tracks.


The BBC's John Heap : "The industry can't afford such problem"
Railtrack and the train operating companies are determined to cut that amount this year, as the industry comes under severe pressure to improve performance.

At the centre of the arsenal is a new satellite global positioning system to pinpoint leaf "blackspots", where falling leaves have compacted into a slippery coating on the rails.

Wheel-grip monitoring equipment on trains beam a signal to Railtrack's offices giving the location of the problem. Staff are then sent to the area to deal with it.


[ image: Leaf damage costs an estimated £10m a year]
Leaf damage costs an estimated £10m a year
The system is on trial this autumn on some trains running on the Central, Chiltern, Connex and Thameslink routes and, if successful, will be extended to cover the entire network.

Railtrack has also spent £40m on a fleet of special trains which blast a high-pressure water cannon to clear the lines, and apply gritty sandite to the track to improve grip.

Two of these models will be in action this autumn, with the rest of the 23-strong fleet being delivered by summer 2000.

Chris Leah, Railtrack's director of operations, said: "For years, leaves have been the butt of railway jokes, but they do cause serious problems for trains.

"This year sees a more focused effort than ever before to help to minimise the problems that autumn brings to operating a punctual and reliable railway."

Other weapons in the autumn 1999 battle include dawn patrols, strategically-placed sand bins, and motorway-style signs which warn drivers if they are approaching a problem area.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

16 Sep 99†|†UK
Rail performance 'still patchy'

19 Aug 99†|†UK
Railtrack faces £40m fine

18 Aug 99†|†UK
No let-up for train woes

20 Nov 98†|†UK
No 'releaf' for rail travellers

08 May 98†|†UK
Railtrack excuse-buster unveiled





Internet Links


Railtrack

Rail Users' Consultative Committee

UK Railways on the Net


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online