Why leaves cause delays on the rail network

leaves on rail networkThe weather has turned positively autumnal with a drop in temperature and leaves starting to drop from the trees. At this time of year commuters across the country groan and begin to think about how often the weather is likely to disrupt their daily journey to work. Leaves on the track is frequently put forward as the major reason for causing seasonal disruption to services on our rail network, and whilst at face value the reason sounds a little far-fetched, leaves on the track are in fact, a real safety hazard.

So why do leaves on the rail network cause so many problems? There are 2 key areas where leaves cause problems:

  1. Trains lose their adhesion as the rails become more slippy
  2. Leaves act as an insulator and can disrupt electrical signals on the track.

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Siemens testing 707s for South West Trains

siemens 707 trainIn 2014 South West trains introduced electrical multiple units (EMUS) on some routes from London Waterloo. This along with projects to lengthen platforms and trains on other services is just small part of an £800 million investment to improve rail services on the network. In 2015 South West trains ordered a number of Siemens class 707 EMUs for use on the Windsor to London Waterloo commuter service and the first body shell for the 707s was completed in October 2015 at the Siemen’s factory in Germany.

Last month testing of the 707s began in earnest at the Siemen’s dedicated test track in Widenrath, Germany. The state of the art testing site has been designed to test UK fleets to Network Rail standards and should keep disruption to UK train services to a minimum during the testing phase. Continue reading

Longest rail tunnel in the world opens in Switzerland

Gotthard TunnelAfter nearly 2 decades of construction work, the Gotthard Tunnel, the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel opened in Switzerland earlier this month.

The tunnel is expected to revolutionise travel between northern and southern Europe by providing a high speed rail link underneath the Swiss Alps, moving freight traffic off the road and onto the rails. It is estimated that more than a million lorry loads of freight will move from road to rail.

Whilst the tunnels have been officially opened scheduled services will not begin until December 2016 when up to 265 freight trains and 65 passenger trains a day are expected to run. Continue reading

Crossrail 2 granted development funding

crossrail 2 tunnel image

Copyright: Crossrail Ltd

Hot on the heels of the reported success of the Crossrail project comes the news that Crossrail 2 has been awarded £80m to develop the project. The project has been identified as a priority and has been endorsed by the National Infrastructure Commission.

What is Crossrail 2?

Crossrail 2 is a proposed new railway serving London and the South East. Its proposed route will serve stations throughout the South East linking South West and North East London as well as brining benefit to other towns and cities across the South East. Many places across the region will benefit from faster or more frequent journeys into London on Crossrail 2 trains and also the National Rail Services on mainline stations. Continue reading

Crossrail update – Project progressing on time

crossrail tunnel

Image copyright Crossrail Ltd

9 months after the tunnelling was complete we thought we’d take a look at the progress of the Crossrail Project; the new line linking rail services from Reading and Heathrow in the West to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East.

In case you missed the announcements in February, the line will be named the Elizabeth line when it opens to passengers in 2018. For those of you wondering which new colour will be added to the London rail service map systems, the new line will be purple. HRH Queen Elizabeth visited the Bond Street station in February where she met with workers and was presented with a commemorative purple Elizabeth line roundel. Continue reading