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TfL reveals plan to stop wet leaves ruining autumn for Piccadilly Line commuters

TfL is hoping to avoid the chaos caused by leaves on the track over the last two years

Commuters faced months of chaos as 40 trains were taken out of service on the Piccadilly line last Autumn(Image: (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images))

Autumn has officially begun and while that is a pleasant enough thought for most of us, it fills Piccadilly Line commuters with dread.

With autumn comes wet leaves on the track, a problem which has caused chaos on the line for the last two years.

Transport for London has announced it will use two specially adapted trains as part of their plan to prevent disruption to services again this year.

Last year, 40 Piccadilly Line trains had to be taken out of service in order to carry out urgent repairs after the wheel developed flats.

Wet leaves can get crushed together when a train passes over them and form a slick substance which causes the train wheels to slide when they brake.

Two 1973 stock trains have been converted into Rail Adhesion Trains, and will run along the track secreting an adhesive which should make it easier for the wheels to grip the railings when braking.

Similar trains already run on the Central and Metropolitan Lines where a significant proportion of the Underground is above-ground.

TfL will monitor detailed weather data for quicker responses to changing conditions and to held decide when to deploy the Rail Adhesion Trains.

Other measures include the most intensive trackside vegetation clearance programme to date, to prevent as many leaves falling on the tracks.

The Rayners Lane branch and the stretch between Oakwood and Cockfosters have historically been trouble areas.

Just like the Metropolitan Line and Network Rail services, the Piccadilly will run an Autumn timetable, which allows drives to lower speeds in low adhesion areas to reduce the risk to wheels as well as new speed limit signage and warnings for drivers when going through an area of low adhesion.

Nigel Holness, London Underground's director of Network Operations, said: "Following disruption for Piccadilly line customers in previous years due to leaf fall, we are determined to learn from past experiences and employ every measure possible to tackle the issue effectively this year.

"This includes introducing two specialist engineering trains that are designed to improve rail adhesion, and carrying out a significant trackside vegetation clearance programme which is already nearing completion.

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"In line with good industry practice we are also introducing a new Autumn timetable to reduce the risk to train wheels.

"We are confident that this approach will help reduce any possible delays and provide our customers with the level of service they expect."

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