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Greater Anglia and Network Rail unite to fight leaf damage

Greater Anglia and Network Rail will complete a £500k investment in anti-slip ‘wheel slide protection’ (WSP) to combat the issue of slippery leaves on the line.

The new technology will be the first time a WSP system has been designed for Class 156 trains and should result in improved performance and more reliable services this autumn.

The system has been tested on a prototype train and is similar to anti-lock braking in cars and judges whether wheels are slowing down simultaneously in order to avoid wheel flat tyre damage – which can see trains out of service for repairs.

The prototype Class 156 has been operating since October 2016 and had no wheel replacements over a six-month period, compared to older models which suffered as many as two or three trips to the wheel lathe.

Greater Anglia is also investing in an upgrade to automatic sanding equipment for its Class 321 fleet which deploy a sticky substance on to the tracks and helps wheels grip while cleaning contamination at the same time.

Other plans and preparations for autumn include additional track-cleaning equipment, vegetation clearance and targeting known problem areas to try to keep delays and disruption to a minimum.

Some timetables will also be changed so that services can run smoothly during the autumn and winter months.

Greater Anglia’s managing director, Jamie Burles, said the organisation would be “doing all it could” to keep services running.

“We are acutely aware of the frustration and inconvenience felt by our passengers when things go wrong, so we are pleased to be taking action in partnership with Network Rail, making additional preparations to protect train services during what is traditionally a difficult period on the railway,” Burles explained.

Similarly, NR has invested in a specially-adapted Land Rover, known as a Sand Rover, which will clean and treat the track between Marks Tey and Sudbury that specialist trains cannot reach.

The ‘Sand Rover’ can be driven onto the railway where rail wheels are then lowered onto the rail, turning it into a rail vehicle.

Maliha Duymaz, NR’s route managing director for Anglia, added: “We have been working together with Greater Anglia on a package of works that aims to keep train services running as smoothly as possible this autumn and winter.

“We understand the inconvenience caused when problems occur, and our engineers will be doing everything they can to keep passengers moving.”

ScotRail recently launched a similar project, spending £2.6m on clearing tracks for autumn.

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Ben Walsh   10/10/2017 at 14:40

This just shows that 'Greater Anglia' are forward thinking in their quest to make provision for services to continue throughout the winter.

Andrew JG   10/10/2017 at 16:23

More money from Greater Anglia being spent on the wheels used on the current rolling stocks before brand new trains are being built and delivered. Typical GA.

Ryan   11/10/2017 at 06:22

Wait, what? You're complaining that GA is investing into the existing fleet?

Not A Parody, Honest   11/10/2017 at 11:01

Yeah, actually RYAN I like the sound of wheelflats. For your information When the rolling stocks from Stadler take over why do Greater Anglia need the old trains for the lines such as Marks Tey - Sudbury? I don't need old trains to run. Waste of time Also Bombardier build brilliant trains and I like their designs so I cannot wait to cram into an Aventra with 9000 other people and no window So 156 to be cascaded to Scotrail, East Midlands and Arriva Trains Wales for the services in Scotland the East Midlands and Wales to replace the 150s there on Ebbw Vale to Cardiff.

Mark Hare   11/10/2017 at 12:36

Andrew JG - maybe you would prefer your train were cancelled due to the number of units out of traffic with severe wheel flats awaiting a trip to the lathe. Anything that combats the effects of leaf-fall season is to be applauded. Leaf fall is happening NOW and action needs to be taken. However I'm wondering what the 'upgrade' is to the automatic sanders on the Class 321 fleet. The 'sticky substance' referred to sounds like Sandite which is certainly not suitable for standard sandboxes and normally needs to be laid at low speed by dedicated trains. I can't imagine standard EMUs would carry and lay Sandite whilst in normal service.

Andrew JG   12/10/2017 at 04:20

And that’s why I can’t wait for new trains which are coming in 2019-onwards.

Andrew Gwilt   12/10/2017 at 04:49

I was on the train yesterday and there were problems with the trains wheels which it was leaves on the tracks that has caused it and it could of started a fire. Luckily the train I was on managed to stop at Billericay station and it has caused some delays to train services coming from Southend Victoria. Which it was out of service and was sent to Ilford depot and another train came about 20 minutes which was already 20 minutes late heading to Liverpool Street. Luckily I was in no rush and I was heading to Shenfield to change trains. But yes leaves on the tracks do cause problems to the trains wheels and even the traction motors.

(Fireman) Sam   13/10/2017 at 18:35

Leaves on the tracks "could of started a fire"????

Andrew Gwilt   15/10/2017 at 10:20

It can happen.

Jon   16/10/2017 at 13:34

When has it happened. Can you show me?

Andrew Gwilt   17/10/2017 at 02:49

Talk about miss communication with some people who can’t seem to justify. It’s to do with friction when the wheels on the tracks cause a friction because of the train and leaves can cause problems to the wheels and even the traction aswell that can cause mechanical issues and can even cause a fire in some cases with smoke coming from the traction motors or engines.

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