Innovative Solutions to ‘Leaves on the Line’


New approaches to low adhesion are in use across the network this autumn.

RSSB carries out RSSB carries out research on behalf of industry to improve scientific understanding of low adhesion between wheel and rail, and develop new solutions to the problem, which is severe in autumn. This year, three of the new solutions that RSSB research and innovation programmes helped to develop are being piloted on the railway.

Providing drivers with information to drive safely and confidently in low adhesion

Following extensive consultation with drivers, RSSB has developed a toolkit to help trainers and managers. Its aim, to make sure low-adhesion information is accurate and usable. And supports driving that is proportionate to the conditions. The toolkit is packed with useful tips and techniques. These help operators understand the information that is most useful for drivers, and when and how to deliver it. Northern has been an early adopter of the toolkit in its autumn preparation.

Predictable and short braking can be achieved by optimised sanders

Previous full-scale testing of double variable rate sanders (DVRS), showed a marked improvement in trains’ braking and predictability compared with current fixed-rate sanders. Now West Midlands Trains has fitted two Class 323s passenger trains on the Birmingham Cross-City line with DVRS. RSSB is supporting the trial by collecting data to inform wider industry roll out, and particularly to inform the case for retrofitting.

"Double variable rate sanders halve train stopping distances in low adhesion compared to current sander configurations. With the help of RSSB, West Midland Trains working together with Network Rail are pioneering this technology, which I believe can radically improve the service we can deliver to our customers in autumn."

Neil Bamford
Engineering Director, West Midlands Trains

Better cleaning of contaminated railhead using dry ice

Network Rail is trialling cryogenic pellets on several of its Road Rail Vehicles as an alternative method of cleaning the railhead. Cryogenic pellets are produced from liquid CO2 and a pelletiser, then applied to the railhead to remove the contaminated coating. The technology builds on RSSB-funded research and innovation, and has attracted considerable interest across the rail industry. Trials are planned on five Network Rail routes, starting with the West Highlands. 

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Get in touch with our Senior Research Analyst for further information.
Ben Altman
Tel: 020 3142 5420
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.