Falling Leaves are Causing ‘Slippery Rails’ on Metro-North
Train passengers should be aware that falling leaves cause more havoc to trains than snow. But Metro-North is attempting to combat the problem.
In a YouTube video posted by Metro-North, "slippery rail" is described as a condition that happens when slimy residue coats the tracks after falling leaves have been crushed by the wheels of trains. This slime causes the wheels of other trains to slip and trigger onboard computers to apply the safety brakes.
The constant use of safety breaks causes the wheels of the train cars to have flat spots that must be repaired, taking the trains out of service. Because it is such a problem, Metro North engineers have developed special cars that clear leaves off of the tracks every evening. High pressure water jets are driven over the rails overnight to completely clean leaves and slime off of the tracks.
Trucks equipped with scrubbers have also been modified to ride on portions of the rails, cleaning more leaf slime from the tracks. The problem of leaves causing slippage on the tracks is so big, that the newer electric cars have even been equipped with sanders that automatically dispense high pressure sand under the wheels when they begin to slip.
Although Metro-North acknowledges that there is no fool-proof method for curing slippage on the rails, these precautions have proven effective and have reduced the amount of delays and stoppages due to falling leaves.
(Video was originally posted by The Journal News)