Classic fall weather has settled in over the Philadelphia region, adding a touch of beauty to SEPTA riders’ commutes as trees trade in their drab green summer leaves for colorful mixes of yellows, oranges and reds.
And while SEPTA is happy to offer customers the opportunity to take in the landscape as they ride the rails, the authority also has to be vigilant about what these pretty leaves can do when they break free of their branches and float onto train tracks. This turns fall into “Slippery Rail” season for SEPTA operations personnel, who are working up a sweat amid the crisp, cool weather to keep conditions safe for riders.
Slippery Rail is a condition that occurs when falling leaves, crushed by passing vehicles, deposit a residue on the tracks. This coating decreases the friction of a train’s wheels, creating slippery rails, and the problems that go with it. In these situations, speed reductions are put into place for trains in order to maintain safe operations – and that can lead to delays and other inconveniences for passengers. These conditions can impact Regional Rail lines, Trolley lines and the Norristown High Speed Line.
SEPTA takes a proactive approach to battling Slippery Rails, with the goal of minimizing the impact to riders. Crews are dispatched along the tracks with high-pressure washing equipment to blast away leaves and leaf residue. Oily deposits are cleaned with a combination of water, gel and sand.
In addition, SEPTA is using all resources available to keep customers informed about Slippery Rails and related service disruptions. Notices have been posted throughout the system, and whenever service is impacted, announcements are made at stations. These travel alerts are also posted on SEPTA’s website and Twitter feed, and sent to local news media outlets.
For more information about Slippery Rails, visit a special section of SEPTA’s website at https://www.septa.org/service/rail/slippery.html.