Train drivers get leaf training

'LEAVES on the line' could stop fewer trains through Suffolk this winter, as drivers are to use new simulators to learn how to drive on slippery rails.

'LEAVES on the line' could stop fewer trains through Suffolk this winter, as drivers are to use new simulators to learn how to drive on slippery rails.

The move is part of a series of projects underway from Anglia Rail and Network Rail, to help prevent disruption to services, from seasonal problems like leaves on the line.

Anglia Railways will soon receive its own slippery-rail simulator equipment, so drivers can learn how to drive defensively during their basic training.

All Class 86, Class 90 and Class 170 trains have also had automatic sanders fitted for better traction and braking. All drivers' cabs are also provided with a 'sand bomb', a five-litre plastic bottle filled with sand which can be applied to the rails to improve the grip, should the automatic sanders fail for any reason.

All station and train staff will be briefed on a new "Leaf Fall" newsletter with tips on how to report areas of low adhesion, and guidance on driving techniques.

Weather forecast information has been upgraded this year, with a daily update and predictions up to five days in advance.

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Network Rail has spent £1.5m on clearing undergrowth, and the region has seven dedicated vehicles which started work this month . They travel around the network day and night, spraying a high-powered water jet on the track to clear the leaves and then spreading a mixture of gel and sand to increase adhesion. More than 100 regional staff have been trained in these techniques.

A new powerful rail grinder which can treat up to thirty miles of rail per night, aims to fight 'rolling contact fatigue' (the cause of the Hatfield crash) but it also has the added benefit of improving the rails and clearing leaf fall.

Yellow sand bins and static sanders which automatically squirt sand onto the rails as a train approaches, have been provided at problem sites including Cromwell Road, Middleton and Darsham on the East Suffolk Line following last year's success of the sand bins at Ipswich.

The Thunderbird rescue locomotive will be on standby at Colchester for use in an emergency or to 'rescue' a locomotive that may have failed in-service on the Norwich to London mainline.



There are changes to Norwich-London and Ipswich to Peterborough/Cambridge timetables due to engineering work next weekend.

Posters showing the revised timetable will be displayed at stations.

Anglia Railways would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and advises passengers to contact National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 before they travel or see the above website.

Wet leaves fall onto the rail and are crushed by train wheels, which then turns the leaves into a hard, Teflon-like surface on top of the rail.

This can cause trains to slip and slide. This problem is the railways' equivalent of black ice on the road.

Leaves can also cover the track to an extent that it causes a track circuit failure, where the electrical contact between the wheel and the track is lost.