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Aqua Track


NJ TRANSIT is committed to providing a seamless travel experience for our customers year-round, but each fall, we face a unique challenge: leaves.

During autumn, falling leaves and the oily residue they produce can hinder a train’s traction, especially in areas with inclines. This phenomenon, “slippery rail”, poses challenges to railroads across the Northeast. 

To ensure safe, reliable, and affordable train operations, NJ TRANSIT employs two AquaTrack machines, which are high-pressure power washing systems that effectively eliminate leaves and oily residue from the tracks.

The AquaTrack system has been an integral part of NJ TRANSIT since October 2003 and is comprised of two 250-horsepower diesel-engine units mounted on a flat car with an operator control cab. Two pressure-pump units dispense water at an impressive 20,000 pounds-per-square-inch directly onto the rail surface. This process utilizes approximately 17 gallons of water per minute. The original AquaTrack primarily operates on the M&E and Montclair-Boonton lines, which face unique challenges due to hilly terrain around our Glen Ridge and Summit stations. These lines undergo rail cleaning twice a day, Monday through Friday, once overnight and again during midday hours. On weekends, the Pascack Valley and Main/Bergen County lines are typically covered. In 2016, NJ TRANSIT introduced a second AquaTrack unit to expand its cleaning capabilities, further preventing delays caused by slippery rail conditions.

In addition to AquaTrack, NJ TRANSIT trains are equipped with sand-spraying mechanisms in front of their wheels. This additional measure enhances traction by increasing friction between the wheels and rails. Furthermore, NJ TRANSIT proactively trims trees along the tracks to help limit the number of leaves that need to be sprayed from the tracks. If a representative from NJ TRANSIT requests that trees in your yard be trimmed back from the tracks, please play your part in ensuring that you and your neighbors can reach your destinations in a timely manner.

NJ TRANSIT remains dedicated, every season, to providing safe, reliable, and affordable transportation services while prioritizing customer satisfaction.