Train Firms To Spend £2m On 'Leaf Fall Teams' Tackling 'Very Real Safety Risks'

2 October 2017, 14:50 | Updated: 2 October 2017, 14:51

ScotRail train

The ScotRail Alliance is to spend more than £2 million on tackling the potentially-dangerous problem of leaves on railway lines.

The train operator is investing the sum as part of a push to deal with the "very real safety risks" caused by the common autumnal problem.

It will deploy 11 "leaf fall teams", involving 30 members of staff, around the country over the coming weeks in a bid to keep train passengers moving as the trees shed their leaves.

The ScotRail Alliance, a formal alliance between Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail, said much of the country's railway is lined by trees, meaning that a common cause of disruption is leaves falling on the line.

The build-up can result in a slippery layer forming on the tracks, potentially causing trains to skid and overshoot signals and platforms.

As a result, drivers have to accelerate and brake more gently, causing services to go more slowly than usual and possibly resulting in delays for passengers.

The work will be led by Network Rail from the middle of this month and is expected to last several weeks.

The operation will see £2.6 million invested in clearing the tracks, with seven specialist treatment trains deployed to clear leaf debris and spray the lines with a glue-like coating to help train wheels grip the tracks.

The leaf fall teams will be based at locations including Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Tayside, the Borders and Fife.

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."