View Full Version : UK rail managers in deciduous tree shock horror...

30th Oct 2002, 23:33
From the Telegraph:

rail managers said they had underestimated the impact of the heavy leaf fall, which has caused slippery tracks and speed restrictions across much of the network.

Oh my gosh, why has this started to happen all of a sudden....???

Captain Stable
31st Oct 2002, 00:05

31st Oct 2002, 08:53
Can sympathise (slightly) with the rail managers: Trees, ergo leaves. But try to fell the trees, and out come the lefty vegetarians, in tears and on camera.

My solution: Send the loonies up the trees, then bring out the chainsaws. Trains on time, end of problems. Er, till it snows... :rolleyes:

tony draper
31st Oct 2002, 09:19
These must be the one or two leaves that don't manage to find my garden. ;)

You want it when?
31st Oct 2002, 10:20
Ahh yes, todays excuse "Leaves", Tuesdays excuse poor traction and then wait for it - power failure in Calliis (or however you spell it). Affecting a trainline North of London Eh? And it's a big ol' diesel train...

Can't wait for tomorrows - why not just admit it, the drivers are cr*p, the schedulers are pathetic and the engineering night crews a waste of space.

Most favoured excuse this year - "A late hand back of the line from over night works" - well duh how difficult is it to that someone being paid £400+ for a nights work, to work out how long it will take to do somethign and add some leeway in at the end.

Train services are a joke.

Apologies to BRL nothing aimed at him.

31st Oct 2002, 10:36
If you watched the edition of Scrapheap Challenge a couple of weeks ago one would understand why leaves are a major problem for the railways, it's called BRAKING!

31st Oct 2002, 10:48
YWIW Nice rant. You read The Sun don't you.... ;)

You want it when?
31st Oct 2002, 10:52
Nope, the Times delivered by those lovely girls in red uniforms on my morning train.

31st Oct 2002, 10:57
The Green Party's entry into British politics is overdue.

Select Zone Five
31st Oct 2002, 11:03
I'm so glad that I'm out of the London commute after almost 9 years!

Strangely enough the best service I ever got into London was when some selfish sod threw himself in front of a train causing mine to re-route and take the fast line all the way in! :D I was sitting at my desk with a coffee at 06:30 :rolleyes:

Usually 'jumpers' ruin thousands of people's days; I guess this was a one off! I can fly to Glasgow quicker than I can get into Blackfiars on a smelly/slow old train with no seats fixed down :mad:

P.S. Can someone tell me why trains sometimes seem to lose drive, associated with a large bang, shortly after starting to roll?

...and why do they always start with a jolt? Is this bad driving, bad rolling stock or the driver having a laugh?

31st Oct 2002, 11:22
Does anyone remember the advert from a few years ago for British Steel, pic of a railway, the caption;

Norweigan railway, Artic circle, British Steel.

How is it that our steel rails can be used to build a railway suffereing arctic conditions, yet we struggle to build a simple railway in our own country with its favourable conditions and make it work.

Brunel must be turning in his grave.


31st Oct 2002, 11:36
Select Zone Five You lasted 9 years :eek: :eek: I couldn't 'commute' for no more than 9 days. I admire the commuters, 99% of them know the score with delays and arn't too bothered about things. As long as you keep tham informed they are quite good.
I am suprised at the rant in the post earlier. Thats the kind of crap that comes from someone who hardly ever uses the train(not a 1st class commuter) and when they do they start going mad mad if its 3 mins late somewhere. They stand out a mile, i suspect though YWIW must be having a bad day or something because to say what he says shows clearly just how much out of touch some people are as i suspect he is a regular commuter.
P.S. Can someone tell me why trains sometimes seem to lose drive, associated with a large bang, shortly after starting to roll?
I take you are talking about slam door stock? If the driver feels the train not pulling away as it should do for whatever reason, i.e. the wheels are spinning through poor traction(leaves/wet railhead) then he will shut off the power and try again. A contactor passes the electricity to the motors and when you shut off the power, the big spark and bang followed by sudden power loss is when the contactor is being disengaged.

...and why do they always start with a jolt? Is this bad driving, bad rolling stock or the driver having a laugh? :) Not us having a laugh i am afraid. Usually a standard formation is four coaches. One of the coaches in the middle will have the motors so when they open up you will feel a jolt as the coaches push or pull together. Amplify the effect twice for an 8 car and 3 times for a 12 car. :)

Select Zone Five
31st Oct 2002, 12:26
Cheers for the info BRL...yeah I have the battle scars from 9 hard years; the commute is v.depressing. I don't miss it one bit!

I have to say that in general the service is quite good but it's the same with most things...when it's not running as you'd like it's very annoying (especially when you're pee'd off about having to go to work anyway :p). Half my problem was the stupid hours I was working. The direct trains home stopped after about 18:30 :mad: I guess it's just an easy thing to whinge about when you're paying £1300 for a yearly ticket and you don't get a seat and then the flippin' driver doesn't show up! I've seen plenty of people close to tears when trying to get information out of ill-informed station staff!

Out of all the considerations, the worst for me is sitting down on a train, only to find that the seat is lose and moves around the whole time! :mad: I suppose this one is down to the same vandals who scratch their 'tag' into the windows and pee all over the place! If only people had more respect for property! :(

Grim Reaper 14
31st Oct 2002, 12:46
BRL - You must be one of the few people on this site who commutes every day. Your advantages are many though:-
- You're not in a hurry to get there;
- You always get a seat;
- You don't even have to leave your 'desk'!;
- It doesn't cost you anything;
- The person before you never had their turd covered shoes on the seat;
- There's no vomit on the floor........ is there?!;) :D :p

You want it when?
31st Oct 2002, 12:52
Paying nearer £5,500 per annum for my ticket - the service is not worth it, even if I traqveled in cattle standing room only class or what the marketing types call "Standard" I'd still be paying about £4,000.

The service to cost ratio is screwed up. In my job if I provide a service I have to deliver it otherwise I incur penalties. In the TOC world it seems that is ignored. How can a train 39 minutes late still be classed as on time?

Survived three years of commuting so far, going for my fourth - and I don't ever take it out on the guards / asisstants as it's hardly there fault. Be nice if they had personalities though.

31st Oct 2002, 13:12
You want it when?
£5,500 :eek: :eek: :eek: Thats a bit steep that. I didn't have a clue that was how much they cost now. A London Brighton one costs about 2k now i think.
The service to cost ratio is screwed up. In my job if I provide a service I have to deliver it otherwise I incur penalties. In the TOC world it seems that is ignored. How can a train 39 minutes late still be classed as on time?
Railtrack, before its demise charged the TOC's something like £90 a minuite off peak and about £180 a minuite peak for any delays they caused. If it was Railtracks fault then they had to pay the toc's. I think the company i work for usually pay a big cheque quarterly for about the tune of a quarter of a million. Its something like that anyway. We are forever getting little notes from management. They are called a 'Please Explain.' You get one and have to explain why your train was 3 mins late between XX station and YY station or thereabouts. Any delay they want to know about. Silly really, sometimes can't remember half the time what the delay actually was. I take it your a Vigin commuter. How do you rate the new Voyagers? I have heard rumours from a mate in the west that they have replaced 9 carriage trains with the latest 4 coach trains. Standing room only from the first station and no room for them up the line to get on and have to wait. :(
GR14 No spew as yet touch wood....... :) (Plenty of **** and poo that the vandals used to leave on the old slam door trains. The cab access to them was easy with a big screwdriver and thay used to make a mess. :(

You want it when?
31st Oct 2002, 13:41
Still got the ol' HST125s complete with BR logos on the mirrors. The "new" trains haven't made a showing yet on the commuter runs into Euston. Saw one at Brum a while back and it looked pretty small in comparison. That will be another great leap backwards then.

Ah well.

31st Oct 2002, 23:21
Course in them olden days they used to employ blokes wot used to cut down trees and vegetation within the railway company fences. That way the trees didnt grow, and the leaves didnt fall as much on the rails. Big steam engines were heavier too so they had better traction when the going got slippery. The same blokes during winter used to don big wooly hats and scarves and donkey jackets, and go and clean the snow out of the points. I wonder if the management have sussed the connection?

Oh and whatever happened to donkey jackets? All you see nowadays is poofy hi-vis, not a hard mans jacket like a donkey jacket! They seemed to dissapear about the same time as white dog poo another connection perhaps?

1st Nov 2002, 06:28
At the risk of being flamed, I will venture to say that leaves on the line are just another excuse to add to the already huge list.

I used to commute daily from Hastings to London and after a year of that madness I had had enough of British Rail for life. The last time I went back to the UK (last weekend) they were still using the old slam door trains!

I was amazed to read how much season tickets seem to be these days. :eek:

If leaves on the line are such a huge problem, how come we never hear the excuse here in Germany?

1st Nov 2002, 07:40
Big Red, take heart.
Was in Holland yesterday and the big item on the news was the fact that 20% of rush hour rail services was suspended due to.............. leaves on the tracks!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
1st Nov 2002, 07:57
How do you rate the new Voyagers? I have heard rumours from a mate in the west that they have replaced 9 carriage trains with the latest 4 coach trains. Standing room only from the first station and no room for them up the line to get on and have to wait

Not good. I rode one into manchester and found the standard seats to be small and uncomfortable, with a sort of ridge under the thighs. Club class was better, but not much. Virgin seem to be trying to make train interiors like aeroplanes - why?? Trains are far more comfortable (the current West Coast Mk 111 coaches are very good - especially 1st class. I doubt the Pendilinos will be as good.

Also, accoring to Rialway Magazine, Voyagers are enjoying very poor reliability. they have complex control systems, are are prone to shutting down engines or disabling toilets when there is actually nothing wrong. They also have far less luggae space than the HSTs.


3rd Nov 2002, 23:30
We have electric trains here, but the wiggly amps drop down from overhead, rather than struggle against gravity upwards. We have deciduous trees as well, and their leaves fall off and everything, but in about March and April - but they don't seem to hold up the trains. Maybe it's because of where the wiggly amps come from.

Where there's no wiggly amps they use a couple of those really big diesel mothers - no slippage there, even with the ex-BR 1st class carriages that were bought nice and cheap (but there's no carriage classes here, everyone travels 1st class :) :) :) )

4th Nov 2002, 17:45
Well, yesterday (Sunday 4th Nov) British Airways cancelled flights to Sumburgh in the Shetlands due to seaweed on the runway! :eek: They didn't specify whether it was the right or wrong sort of seaweed though.:)

The truth was that it was washed onto the runway by the gales, and noone couald actually stand up in the wind to sweep it off!!:) Amazing!!

Select Zone Five
6th Nov 2002, 12:31
I've just been up town via train and realised why I don't miss the commute at all. I feel like a whinge (sorry BRL) so here goes...

1) Train was delayed so I travelled after 0930 even though I paid the full fare...:mad:

2) My seat was...surprise, surprise, broken :mad:

3) It crawled along with the speed of a car in central London :mad:

4) Points failure at Kings Cross so my return train was delayed too :mad:

5) The return train took the longest route between stations possible and barely got above 20mph :mad:

6) It's raining (not the train companies fault, I know but it multiplies the despair) :mad:


6th Nov 2002, 12:45
You maybe remeber that some 15 years ago British Rail issued an official statement that THE WRONG TYPE OF LEAVES on the track were a reason for delays!!

As the Telegraph states: ""...the impact of the heavy leaf fall, which has caused, etc.etc.""

'THE HEAVY LEAF' must be the same as "THE WRONG TYPE OF LEAVE" ?????????

6th Nov 2002, 15:49
From today's Times (copyright acknowledged)

Do other countries’ railway systems grind to a halt at the onset of autumn owing to a surprise fall of leaves on the line?

The simple answer is “yes”, but the public, press and media do not make a fuss about it. Just as wet leaves on a pavement can cause loss of footing, they can cause steel wheels to lose firm contact with steel rails.

In Paris, commuters on some lines are only too aware of autumn leaves on the line. The Dutch know the problem as well and have been experimenting with the “Sandite” used in this country. In Germany the Munich Stadtbahn usually gets stitched up at this time of year — yes, leaves again. And only the other week on the Oberammergau branch, the brand-new trains had to be taken off as they cannot cope with . . . leaves on the line.

Thirty years ago in Sweden it was not unknown for a special banking locomotive to be positioned at Norrkoping station to help southbound trains to start away in autumn, because of the number of trees near the station.

The problem has worsened everywhere as we have become “greener”. There were not as many trees and bushes along railway lines years ago — steam locomotives regularly set fire to embankments and this helped to keep things under control. However, even in those far-off days it was not unknown for freight trains to take less tonnage in autumn when adhesion conditions were bad.

6th Nov 2002, 17:39
How do you rate the new Voyagers? I have heard rumours from a mate in the west that they have replaced 9 carriage trains with the latest 4 coach trains. Standing room only from the first station and no room for them up the line to get on and have to wait

As a regular "Virgin Victim", I can confirm that they have effectively halved the size of the Voyager sets from 8 to 4 cars. Where did you think the extra trains they mention in the adverts were going to come from......new rolling stock or something???

Even the services between the South coast and Scottish cities (journey times of 9 hours-plus) have been affected by this. They are now nominally 5 car sets, although every time I have been on one of these services in the past two weeks it has been a 4 car set, with the "train manager" apologising for the "missing" fifth car. Good job "Club Class" is attached to the engine, or I'd never get home!

The overcrowding I have seen on some of these services would shame a third-world railway, and I shudder to think what an emergency evacuation would look like.

Are there no Health and Safety regulations that apply to overcrowding on trains?

uffington sb
6th Nov 2002, 18:46
The problems of leaf fall are not only traction/adhesion related but it also affect signalling.
The problem being that leaves on the line get mulched by the train wheels and a film of contamination is spread along the track and onto the wheels. On most main lines, signalling is by the Track Circuit Block method. A small electric current is passed along sections of track and is short circuited by the trains wheels and axle, this enables the location of the train to be displayed on the track diagram of the signal box. As a result of the contamination, the short circuit doesn't occur, not very good when track circuits are used to operate signals, points, level crossings etc.
The problem has been compounded by new train design. Instead of old fashioned block brakes, which acted directly onto the wheels and therefore cleaned them on every application of the brakes, modern trains have disc brakes.
Every night, score of 'sandite' trains operate throughout the network and mobile teams using hand 'sandite' treat difficult areas.
UR - Thanks for pointing out that it's not just a UK problem, and yes, there are the wrong and right sort of leaves!!!!!!!