Belfast Telegraph

Translink spend £4m on train to keep tracks clear of leaves

Translink NI Railways has invested £4 million on a new train to keep Northern Ireland's railways clear of leaves.

A new multi-purpose engineering train will use higher-powered water jets to clear the tracks and grit-like substance sandite to prevent slips on the rails.

While leaves on the tracks may sound like a minor issue, it has the same impact on trains as black ice has on the road - making it more difficult for trains to stop and start.

Speaking about the investment, head of civil engineering at NI Railways Mark Atkinson explained: "Leaf fall season leads to challenging conditions on the rails as fallen leaves get crushed between the rails and train wheels, making the rail head slippery. This in turn can make it difficult for trains to accelerate and brake. We have teams working hard to combat these conditions to keep our services running safely."

Each year Translink spends around £450,000 to keep the tracks as clear as possible during the autumn period.

Last year BBC myth-busting programme 'Bang Goes the Theory' examined the phenomenon.

Translink's leaf-clearing trains work through the night to clear leaves and spread sandite on the tracks, with sandite application machines also in use across Northern Ireland's 260 miles of track, according to the company's website.

Drivers are also trained to be able to deal with low-adhesion conditions, allowing them to minimise impact effects on services and passengers.

While Translink has said that it works to minimise delays, customers are advised to consult with its journey planner before setting out this winter.

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