Could this reduce delays caused by ‘leaves on the line’ this autumn?

Some of Greater Anglia's Intercity trains to London will have their journeys extended to compensate for leaves on the line.

Some of Greater Anglia's Intercity trains to London will have their journeys extended to compensate for leaves on the line. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Greater Anglia has made changes to its timetable to make it easier for its trains to keep to time during the autumn leaf-fall season.

Many journey times have been extended by a few minutes to allow trains slightly longer to accelerate or brake on tracks that might be slippery because of leaves on the line.

Leaves on the line pose problems for the railway as they stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a thin, slippery black layer on the rail which – much like black ice on the roads – can affect braking distance and reduce traction and acceleration.

Greater Anglia and Network Rail work together every year to minimise the effects of autumn on train performance.

MORE: In 2015 Greater Anglia’s old trains struggled to cope with leaves on branch lines

Greater Anglia intercity trains leaving Norwich, Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, and Manningtree before 7.30am will depart up to five minutes earlier, Monday to Friday only.


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Greater Anglia uses automatic sanders on its trains which can deposit a layer of sand onto the rails, cleaning off any leaf mulch as they go, and helping train wheels to grip.

All Greater Anglia trains also feature Wheel Slide Protection, which is like ABS in cars and helps the trains’ wheels to brake more evenly, preventing wheel damage and wear that could lead to trains being taken out of service for repair.

MORE: By 2017 Greater Anglia had won an award for solving the “leaves on the line” problem

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Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia’s Managing Director, commented: “We are pleased to be taking action in partnership with Network Rail this autumn to help passengers continue to travel with confidence.

“The last six months have seen excellent levels of punctuality across the network and we will be doing everything we can to maintain this during what has traditionally been seen as a difficult season for the railway.”

“We will be doing all we can, as ever, to make lives a little easier for our passengers, getting them from a to b reliably, safely, on time and in comfort.”

Greater Anglia continues to ensure that rail travel is safe for staff and passengers with an enhanced cleaning regime, on stations and trains, concentrating on high-touch areas such as push buttons, grab rails and door handles.

The train operator has also introduced a wide range of measures to make it easier for customers to maintain social distancing at stations and on trains - including floor markings, one-way systems, new signs and queuing systems.

It is now mandatory for customers to wear a face covering when using public transport, to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Children under the age of 11 and people with a disability or illness which means they cannot wear a face covering are exempt from wearing them.

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