Aqua Track


NJ TRANSIT utilizes two AquaTrack machines to clean and remove leaves from the rails throughout the fall season. The AquaTrack equipment is a high-pressure power washing system which removes leaves and oily residue from the tracks in an effort to prevent train delays caused by “slippery rail” conditions.

During the fall season, the falling leaves and the oily residue they excrete begin to hamper a train’s ability to maintain traction, particularly in areas of our rail system with inclines. This leads to what is referred to in the industry as ‘slippery rail’ conditions. In order to combat this condition, which particularly impacts railroads throughout the Northeast, our AquaTrack machines are deployed to quickly remove leaves and the oily residue they create to minimize delays to trains due to this condition and improve on-time performance for our customers.

The AquaTrack system has been in use by NJ TRANSIT since October 2003.  It consists of two 250-horsepower diesel-engine units mounted on a flat car with an operator control cab.  Two pressure-pump units dispense water up to 20,000 pounds-per-square-inch directly to the top of the rail. The process uses 17 gallons of water per minute. The original AquaTrack is operated primarily on the M&E and Montclair-Boonton lines, which face particular challenges including the hilly areas around Glen Ridge and Summit stations, washing the rails twice a day Monday through Friday—once overnight and again during midday hours. On weekends, the Pascack Valley and Main/Bergen County lines are usually covered. In 2016, NJ TRANSIT unveiled its second AquaTrack unit which allows the cleaning process to maintain a larger coverage area in helping to prevent delays caused by slippery rail.

In addition to AquaTrack, NJ TRANSIT trains are equipped to spray sand on the rails in front of their wheels to increase traction.  NJ TRANSIT also trims trees to help stem the amount of leaves on the tracks.