WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – Metro-North is reminding Westchester train commuters of seasonal efforts on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines to eliminate service delays caused by fallen, wet leaves on the railroad tracks.
“We have also stepped up our efforts to keep our right of way as ‘leaf free’ as possible,” Metro-North said in a press release, citing rail washers and scrubbers that are used more frequently to remove dead leaves from the tracks, the release said. Also, some diesel trains are equipped with sanders that automatically drop sand on the tracks to help improve traction and reduce wheel slippage, the release said.
Some minor train service delays in the autumn months are attributed to “slip-slide,” a condition created by a slimy substance left by crushed leaves on railroad tracks that gets even slipperier after it rains, Metro-North said.
“When a train attempts to speed up or slow down, this gelatinous ‘slime’ can cause the wheels to slip or slide along the rails,” the release said. “In severe cases the train will automatically make an emergency stop, because the on-board computer system perceives slip-sliding as excessive speed. And this slip-sliding and braking can also create flat spots on the train's wheels, forcing us to take much-needed equipment out of service for repairs.”
Some changes enacted to lesson slip-slide include:
- Instructing engineers to report slippery conditions immediately to the Operations Control Center.
- Enhancing computerized train-tracking system to allow for automatic reporting of slip-slide incidents and conditions, for faster corrective action.
- Installing a Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD) across all four tracks in the Park Avenue Tunnel. This monitors for wheel flats that may have developed during operation and allows crews to identify and prioritize wheels for repair.
- Installing a tandem Wheel Truing Lathe, a state-of-the-art wheel true facility that can cut both wheels on a truck simultaneously. This allows for proper wheel diameter matching and also helps crews return cars to service more quickly. CDOT is currently building a second identical facility in New Haven to support the M8 railcars.