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ScotRail to spend £2.6m clearing leaves off tracks in autumn

ScotRail is set to invest £2.6m in clearing the tracks of leaves this autumn as part of a larger programme of works to keep its passengers moving whatever the weather.

Though falling leaves seem harmless, they can actually cause considerable disruption on the railway, and can put passenger safety at risk, as trains are more likely to skid and overshoot signals and platforms.

With much of Scotland’s railway surrounded by trees, the organisation is embarking on the work to ensure leaves are kept out of the way of tracks and signalling systems.

Included in the £2.6m investment will be 11 leaf fall teams totalling 30 staff, a fleet of seven specialist treatment trains designed to clear leaf debris, as well as treatment trains covering an average of 1,500 miles a day.

ScotRail predicts that around 7,200 staff hours will be dedicated to clearing the line, and will also be using a colour-coding warning system on Twitter to keep passengers updated about potential disruption caused by the weather.

“We are working hard to build the best railway Scotland has ever had, and part of that is keeping people moving during autumn when the weather can create major safety risks,” said David Dickson, infrastructure director for the ScotRail Alliance.

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

“The ScotRail Alliance is investing millions of pounds and pulling out all the stops to tackle this problem over the coming months.

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Andrew Gwilt   03/10/2017 at 21:54

Good on ScotRail to spend £2.6m to clear up leaves on the railways. But is that Network Rail’s job to maintain the railways in Scotland.

AJG89   03/10/2017 at 22:02

As long as ScotRail knows how to maintain and to look after their railway lines in and around Scotland to provide better services from A to B. Then I think that’s a good idea. Then they wouldn’t need Network Rail to look after the railways in Scotland.

J, Leicester   04/10/2017 at 11:04

You're right Andrew - the fact that ScotRail see the need to make this investment would suggest that Network Rail's own RHTT programme is insufficient. Granted, there is a vague precedent for this from other TOCs in the past - Chiltern had a departmental fleet - but that was eventually deemed surplus to requirements, so it's interesting to consider the reasoning for ScotRail going in the other direction.

Mark Hare   04/10/2017 at 12:11

J - Chiltern used to run their own Sandite / Waterjetting train due to running over LU infrastructure between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill and indeed Chiltern were paid by LU for treating the line - it was in Chiltern's interest to maintain this agreement for a number of years. However the contract for the LU and the Chilterns was taken over by DB with a more efficient operation (able to jet at 60mph versus the Chiltern unit's 30mph).

Andrew Gwilt   05/10/2017 at 03:17

Too right J. Leicester.

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