Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

NIR turns over a new leaf to stop delays in their tracks

It's that autumnal problem for every rail operator — leaves on the line.

But now Northern Ireland Railways has tackled the annual punctuality problem by teaming up with the Met Office for the first time to receive regular updates and forecasts on leaf fall.

The Met Office’s leaf fall predictor tool allows NIR to predict where and when leaf fall on tracks will be greatest and to make preparations which would avoid train services being hit.

The tool is based on average leaf fall for a particular time of year and is calculated on a daily basis, taking into account factors such as the previous and current day's weather.

It also examines previous weather patterns and calculates how this may affect future fall.

Leaf fall predictions have been issued to the NIR operations team every day since the peak season began on October 22.

This allows the team to publish a forecast to train drivers so they are forewarned about the likelihood of sticky or slippery conditions.

Gary Cooley of Translink said: "We are pleased with how the leaf fall predictor service from the Met Office has helped us to effectively plan and manage rail head maintenance and driving conditions and to raise driver awareness.

"To date this autumn we have experienced no delays caused by leaves on the line, which is an excellent result."

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