Northern branches out with new GPS technology to successfully battle autumn leaf fall – Rail UK

New GPS tracking on Northern trains has been used successfully to make autumn conditions even safer by flagging leaf fall hotspots. 

Fallen leaves can cause significant disruption to the network. Leaves stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a smooth, slippery layer, reducing trains’ grip. This can cause delays to services, which lead to disruption for passengers. 

But cutting-edge technology being used by Northern on its CAF fleet shows the train operator where there may be tricky conditions for drivers by tracking how the train is moving. 

It tracks any small slips or slides on a mapping system which can be shared with drivers to forewarn them of any tricky conditions or with Network Rail who clean the tracks. Some problem areas included routes between Horsforth and Harrogate, Earlestown and Huyton as well as between Guiseley and Ilkley. 

Rob Cummings, seasonal performance manager at Northern said: “Slippery rails are a massive problem for the rail industry, and we are playing a big part in resolving this issue. 

“This is just one of the many cutting-edge ways Northern is battling autumn conditions to make sure our customers can get to their destinations on time, even when the weather is against us.” 

The train operator is also testing ‘rail head treatment technology’ which is attached to the undercarriage of passenger trains and could save the rail industry millions of pounds every year. 

On Sunday (10 December), rail timetables across the North of England will change in line with the rest of the National Rail network. Customers are encouraged to use the ‘Check My Timetable’ feature on the Northern website for more information about their local station. 

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

Image credit: Northern

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