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Battle of the Leaf Season is Underway |
With the arrival of fall comes NJ TRANSIT's annual battle of the leaves. The colorful fall foliage season can quickly turn into problems for our rail equipment when leaves fall onto the tracks and are crushed by train wheels, producing an oily, slippery substance. It's an age-old problem that affects railroads around the world.
In addition to the potential for delays, slippery rail conditions can damage train wheels when they slip during acceleration or slide as brakes are applied. As a result, we are proactively battling this condition again this year to minimize potential delays and protect our equipment.
To minimize the impacts on our customers, we've trimmed trees along our railroad rights-of-way to help reduce the amount of leaves and branches that can fall onto our tracks and overhead wires. When the season is in full swing, we run sand trains ahead of peak-period trains to increase traction as needed, particularly in areas where steeper hills exist like in Glen Ridge on the Montclair-Boonton Line and in Summit on the Morris & Essex Lines.
Our greatest weapon against falling leaves is Aqua Track (pictured), a powerful machine that operates on our tracks and blasts water onto the rail with two high-powered pumps, removing oily residue and blowing any remaining leaves off the tracks. Aqua Track has dramatically reduced our slippery rail train delays for more than a decade, increasing service reliability and improving the customer experience.