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  • So what is the rail industry doing about it?

    Network Rail, the body responsible for maintaining the rail network, is working to eliminate or minimise the problem of leaves on the line:

    • Network Rail has a fleet of special 'sandite' trains, which spread a gritty paste on the rails to give trains improved adhesion. Known problem areas such as deep cuttings and steep inclines are targeted in order to minimise delays
    • there are also static machines to apply sandite at known trouble spots and mobile applicators, which can be used by track workers. High pressure water jets are also used to remove crushed leaves before they form a hard coating
    • leaf guards can be positioned around the track to stop the leaves being blown onto the rails
    • in some cases, it is necessary to fell problem trees. However to protect the environment, these are replaced with smaller leafed trees such as hazel, cherry and holly. Network Rail's tree surgeons take advice from conservation specialists to minimise the impact tree management can have on wildlife. For example, no work is planned during the main nesting season.
    • our fleet of trains is also fitted with sophisticated sanding equipment to improve traction on slippery rails - the equivalent of ABS on a car. The driver can apply the sand when wheel spin occurs during acceleration