With much of Scotland’s railway lined by trees, a common cause of disruption during autumn is leaves falling on the line. A build-up of leaves results in a slippery layer forming on the tracks.
This can be dangerous, causing trains to skid and overshoot signals and platforms - potentially putting passengers and staff in danger.
As a result, drivers must accelerate and brake gently. This causes services to go slower than normal and can result in disruption for customers.
Leaf debris can also interfere with the signalling systems, making it difficult to track trains on the network.
Led by Network Rail, from the middle of October the autumn campaign will include:
• £2.6million invested in clearing the tracks
• 11 leaf fall teams, totalling 30 staff based at locations across Scotland including in Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Tayside, the Borders and Fife
• A fleet of seven specialist treatment trains designed to clear leaf debris and spray lines with a glue-like coating to help train wheels grip the tracks
• Treatment trains covering an average of 1,500 miles a day
• Up to 7,200 staff hours dedicated to clearing the line
• A colour-coded warning system on Twitter each day, advising customers of any expected disruptions caused by the weather.
David Dickson, infrastructure director for the ScotRail Alliance, said:
“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.
“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.”