Northern branches out with new GPS technology to battle autumn leaf fall

Northern is using GPS technology to make train journeys safer.

New GPS tracking on Northern trains has been used successfully to make autumn conditions safer by flagging leaf fall hotspots.

Fallen leaves can cause significant disruption to the network. Leaves stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a smooth, slippery layer, which reduces trains’ grip. This can cause delays to services, leading to disruption for passengers.

Cutting-edge technology being used by Northern on its CAF fleet shows the train operator where there may be tricky conditions for drivers by tracking how the train is moving. It tracks any small slips or slides on a mapping system which can be shared with drivers or with Network Rail who clean the tracks.

Rob Cummings, seasonal performance manager at Northern, said: “Slippery rails are a massive problem for the rail industry, and we are playing a big part in resolving this issue.

“This is just one of the many cutting-edge ways Northern is battling autumn conditions to make sure our customers can get to their destinations on time, even when the weather is against us.”

Problem areas have included routes between Horsforth and Harrogate, Earlestown and Huyton, as well as between Guiseley and Ilkley.

Northern, the second largest train operator in the UK, is also testing rail head treatment technology, which is attached to the undercarriage of passenger trains and could save the rail industry millions of pounds every year.

On 10th December, rail timetables across the north of England will change in line with the rest of the National Rail network. Customers are encouraged to use the Check My Timetable feature on the Northern website for more information.

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