Leaves on line cause rail delays

HUNDREDS of train passengers were hit by rush-hour delays at York Station, as leaves on the tracks caused widespread disruption.

Services in and out of the city were hit by the seasonal problem, which affected commuters and tourists yesterday.

A spokesman for Network Rail said the problem had affected most trains during the morning rush-hour, but said the delays had not been lengthy.

Keith Lumley said: "There were some problems yesterday morning. We don't have details on individual trains, but it was all weather-related stuff - leaves on the track.

"It did delay most trains in and out of York during the rush hour.

"There was nothing significantly delayed."

He said that as soon as reports of slippery rails were received, special "leaf fall gangs" had been mobilised to clear the tracks, using a variety of appliances and materials.

GNER spokesman John Gelson said none of their weather-related delays had been lengthy, but said one train to London had been an hour late, due to a signalling fault near Edinburgh.

He said one of their services got stuck behind a ScotRail train at Long Niddrie, where the fault occurred.

It was due to leave York at 9.30am, but was about 60 minutes late.

Earlier this month, The Press reported innovative new plans to tackle the annual leaves problem.

Network Rail has unveiled plans to use satellites to help reach hotspots as soon as possible, with two man crews then using railhead scrubbers, sand sticks and Natrusolve, which dissolves the leaf mulch.

They will also have a 24-hour control centre manned by teams dedicated to tackling autumn conditions, and two water-jetting trains based at York and one at Peterborough.

Autumn costs the rail industry about £60 million per year, while weather and seasonal factors account for some ten per cent of all delay minutes across the network.

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