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Delays and disruption to trains as ‘leaf fall’ timetables launch

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Rail passengers are set for autumn angst as trains will bypass stations to deal with leaves on the line.

Some commuters will have to get to stations early as trains will be leaving three minutes earlier than usual.

Others are being warned they will arrive late into their final destinations.

Some operators will are planning to cancel some services so there are bigger gaps between trains.

Chiltern, Northern, South Western and Southeastern will all be running amended “leaf fall” timetables from the first or second week of October until mid-December.

National Rail said longer gaps need to be left between trains “to keep passengers safe in the worst affected areas”.

It said thousands of tonnes of leaves fall onto railway lines every autumn, sticking on damp rails and then compressing into a slippery layer which reduces the trains’ grip.

Drivers then have to brake earlier so they do not overshoot stations and signals.

Trains will be cancelled because of autumn leaf falls
Image:
Trains will be cancelled because of autumn leaf falls

More than 50 “leaf-busting treatment trains” are deployed across the country every autumn which use water jets to clean the rails of leaves.

They then apply a sand-based gel so trains can grip the rails.

Some passenger trains have also been fitted with equipment to spray sand onto the rail in front of the wheels to improve grip.

But the preventative measures are not enough, meaning some train operators have to alter their timetables as well.

Passengers travelling on Southeastern Railway have been told some morning trains will leave “a few minutes earlier” while evening trains will arrive at stations from London “a few minutes later”.

The leaf fall timetables will run from October to December
Image:
The leaf fall timetables will run from October to December

When there is bad weather, Southeastern’s off-peak metro services during the week “will call less frequently at some stations”.

Northern is dealing with leaves by missing out some services, with passengers advised to check timetables in advance.

Chiltern Railways has said its trains running to London from Aylesbury will depart three minutes earlier than usual.

South Western Railway routes into London Waterloo will also be affected, with passengers being warned to expect delays and fewer trains.

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