Rolling stock


Porterbrook to install autumn leaf protection on Abellio East Anglia fleet

A wheel slide guard designed to tackle the problem of autumn leaves on the railway is due to be rolled out on Porterbrook’s fleet after a successful trial.

Porterbrook developed the system of wheel slide protection to install on its fleet of 1980s-era 250 Class 15x vehicles, which it leases to Abellio East Anglia.

The developers met the target of getting one unit in service for autumn 2016, going from design to testing in four months. The system allowed the Class 156 train to remain in service throughout autumn, whilst others had to be taken out of system for wheel re-profiling. Porterbrook is now planning to install it on its other trains.

Colin Dobson, the engineering director at Abellio East Anglia, said: “The WSP system installed on the 156 provided a critical capability during our most operationally vulnerable and challenging period.

“We were also able to gather invaluable comparative data to show how the system both added operational resilience and protected service levels.”

Knorr Bremse Rail Services supplied the equipment, based on its MGS3 system, which has previously been used on high-speed trains in Europe. However, the MGS3 has never been used in England or on tread braked vehicles.

SNC-Lavalin led the system integration to the existing vehicles and Loram carried out the installation of the first in class unit.

The system, which works similarly to an anti-lock brake on a car, activates automatically when the wheels come into contact with slippery tracks, preventing serious damage.

Greater Anglia and Network Rail also bought an adapted Land Rover to clean autumn leaves off the track.

Separately, owing to a lack of wheel slide protection, large numbers of Piccadilly Line trains on the London Underground had to be taken out of service this autumn, causing delays.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has now promised new rolling stock will be introduced from 2023.

(Image c. Geof Sheppard)

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Andrew Gwilt   23/12/2016 at 00:13

Brilliant idea. It should help these trains get more traction and to stop slipping as leaves do create problems with the wheels and brakes on the trains.

Jerry Alderson   23/12/2016 at 14:50

Without the devastating withdrawal of service on the Felixstowe and Sudbury branches in autumn 2015 this work would not have been done. The ORR's station usage figures have shown the impact: patronage has fallen on every station on the Felixstowe branch, admitteldy also caused by cancellations to give freight trains priority.

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