Track and signalling

24.09.19

Pioneering train trials at Cross City line

Passengers who travel on the Cross City line are being warned by Network Rail about potential disruption taking place next month.

The line between Barnt Green and Redditch will be closed on every Sunday in October (6, 13, 20 & 27) to allow pioneering testing of an innovative train braking method.

The improved way of braking is to tackle delays and hazards caused by leaves on the tracks. If successful, the autumn testing could see safety and reliability improve on the lines.  

Autumn in particular is a time when leaves can be a nuisance on the tracks. When compressed, they cause a ‘Teflon-like’ material making the train’s wheels slip and skid.

To combat this, drivers must slow down in certain places, taking the extra few minutes to arrive safely, which can often result in a disruption to the timetable.

A new timetable can already be seen at the Cross City line through Birmingham to balance the leaf-induced delays.

Martin Colmey, head of operations delivery for Network Rail’s Central route, said:

 “Leaves on the line is a big problem for the railway. It disrupts services and inconveniences passengers and every year, Network Rail and train operators work together to battle against the elements to keep people moving safely and on time.

He added that this project could see the ‘dreaded leaves on the line become a thing of the past.’

Part of the test will involve making the rails artificially slippery to simulate the compressed leaves, and having targeted jets of sand spray in front of the train wheels just before the pass over.

The likes of which have been seen before, with the difference being that in this trial, they will target specific wheels with sand as they start to slip only when it’s needed. The aim of which is to try and avoid braking and prevent the delay.

Neil Bamford, engineering director at West Midlands Railway, said: “It might seem like an old problem but with millions of trees in Birmingham alone, leaves falling on the line cause very real issues on our network.

“We are fully committed to improving the experience for our passengers and once perfected this innovative system could boost reliability in the autumn months.

Rail replacement bus services will be in operation and passengers are advised to check their journey. However, if successful, it could eventually benefit millions of passengers nationwide.

 

Photo : Network Rail 

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