Translink partners with Met Office to keep leaf fall predictions on track!!

Posted: 5 November 2012 | | No comments yet

In 2011, Translink NI Railways partnered with the Met office for the first time to receive regular updates and forecasts on leaf fall…

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In 2011, Translink NI Railways partnered with the Met office for the first time to receive regular updates and forecasts on leaf fall. This allowed the organisation to predict where and when leaf fall on tracks would be greatest and to make preparations which would avoid train services being adversely impacted. This year, the service has been fully embraced as part of NI Railways preparations for managing the potential impact of leaf fall.

The leaf fall predictor tool was developed in the late 1990s by the Met Office in order to help transport organizations manage their services between early Autumn and Winter. The predictor is based on average leaf fall for a particular time of year and is calculated on a daily basis, taking into account factors such as the previous and current day’s weather. It also examines previous weather patterns and calculates how this may affect future fall. For example, in the days following strong winds, leaf fall will be reduced as loose leaves will have been removed. Conversely, following a period of calm weather and cool nights, the potential for greater fall will increase.

Leaf fall prediction, based on a red, amber and green system is issued to NI Railways Operations team by the Met Office every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Translink. During peak season, which beings this year on October 22nd this year, reports are issued every day. This allows the operations team publish an adhesion forecast to Train Drivers so they are forewarned of the level of adhesion risk and likelihood of experiencing slippery conditions. Drivers can then adjust their driving technique to avoid wheel slippage and incident. The service also helps us predict when we need to treat the rail head by water jetting and applying Sandite rail adhesive for maximum effect.

Gary Cooley from Rail Operations at Translink explained, “We have been treating our lines by water jetting and with Sandite for the past month since leaf fall began and we are pleased with how the leaf fall predictor service from the Met Office has helped us to effectively plan and manage rail head maintenance and driving conditions and to raise driver awareness. To date this Autumn we have experienced only minor delays caused by leaves on the line resulting in wheel slip and service punctuality remains high for us and our passengers.”

Steve Smith, Senior Scientist with the Met Office Rural Environment Team said, “We provide the leaf fall predictor service to a number of rail services in the South East of England. The service allows customers to more effectively plan their services and to minimise the delays and service cancellations caused by wheel slip.”

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