ScotRail Alliance investing millions in autumn safety

The ScotRail Alliance is making sure Scotland’s railway is better prepared than ever before for autumn.

Over £13m is being invested to help reduce the impact of autumn conditions on the performance of the network.

During autumn, the trees that grow along the railway drop thousands of tonnes of leaves onto the tracks and this debris can cause significant disruption – breaking down into a slippery surface that causes trains to lose their grip on the rails.

This can make trains skid and overshoot signals and platforms – potentially putting customers and staff in danger. The debris can also affect signalling systems, making it hard to track trains on the network.

To keep passengers safe, train drivers must brake earlier and accelerate more gently and these changes, while making journeys safer, can result in slower trains and disruption to services.

Delivered by Network Rail Scotland, the Alliance’s autumn campaign will see:

  • A fleet of specialist trains deployed to clear leaf debris and spray lines with a glue-like coating to help train wheels grip the tracks.
  • These treatment trains will cover an average of 1,500 miles a day – running each day from early October until late November.
  • ‘Leaf fall’ teams of maintenance staff based at key points across the network ready to react quickly to clean specific locations where drivers report poor conditions.
  • An increased programme to remove lineside vegetation and trees which may pose a danger.
  • Increased staffing at depots to clean leaf debris from train wheels and undercarriages.
  • Increased staffing at our control centre to monitor the impact of the autumn conditions on performance across the network.

David Dickson, infrastructure director for the ScotRail Alliance, said: “Over the next two months we will be running a huge operation to treat tracks and keep trains running on time.

“Throughout the autumn, our teams will be work through the day and night to keep our infrastructure clear and the tracks safe.

“We know few things annoy customers more than when their train is delayed because of leaves on the line, but the reality is that leaves can be dangerous and lead to disruption.”