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Leaves on the line

Thousands of tonnes of leaves fall onto the railway each autumn.

Did you know that leaves on the line are the rail equivalent of black ice on the roads?

The leaves get crushed down into a layer of mucky mulch by passing trains, making it harder for the trains to grip the track and brake when passing over them. This also confuses our signals, which rely on the electric currents in the track to work out where the trains are.

Leaves on the lines does mean that our trains need to accelerate and brake more gently, to keep everyone safe. This can lead to increased journey times, but we do our best to minimise delays.

Network Rail has a fleet of leaf-busting trains that clean the rails with powerful water jets, and teams who work around the clock on rails with descaling machines, and applying a sand-based gel to help the trains grip the rails.

Find out more about how autumn leaves affect the railway here.

Find out how other weather conditions affect the railway here.

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