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Leaf Fall 2017

changes to timetable

It's that time of year again...

Please see below for a summary of the changes to expect with the Autumn 2017 Timetable. We've prepared some Frequently Asked Questions about why leaves cause such a nuisance for the railway. As always, please also check before you travel as last minute additional alterations may occur

'Abbey Line' (Watford Junction - St Albans Abbey)

An Autumn Timetable will operate Monday - Saturday during the period of Monday 23rd October to Saturday 9th December 2017. Services are retimed by a few minutes at most stations with slightly extended journey times to allow for trains taking longer to start with wet/slippery rails and for braking earlier at stations. Please allow extra time for your journey, and download a copy of the amended timetable here. 


'Cross City Line' (Lichfield - Birmingham New Street - Longbridge/Redditch)

An Autumn Timetable will operate Monday - Saturday during the period of Monday 30th October to Saturday 9th December 2017 until approximately 20:00 each evening. You can download your own copy of the timetable here & see below overview of alterations.
Cross City North (Lichfield to Birmingham)
  • Some train will run non-stop between Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham New Street, in both directions. There are slight changes in the departure times of these trains.
  • The 07:40 Lichfield Trent Valley - Redditch will start at Lichfield City and will not call at Duddeston
  • The 08:10 Lichfield Trent Valley - Longbridge will not call at Duddeston
  • Lichfield Trent Valley will be served half hourly, with other services towards Birmingham starting from Lichfield City.  Some services to Lichfield will terminate at Lichfield City.
Cross City South (Redditch/Longbridge to Birmingham)
  • Some train will run non-stop between Selly Oak and Longbridge. There are slight changes in the times of these trains.
  • Some trains from Longbridge will start from Selly Oak and not call at Longbridge, Northfield, Kings Norton or Bournville
  • The 07:22 and 08:02 departures from Longbridge will run as per our normal timetable and will not be altered.


Why does Autumn leaf fall affect train services?

Leaf fall isn't about piles of leaves building up on the railway line - the problem is the residue they leave behind which coats the tracks and wheels with a hard slippery coating. This creates difficult conditions for our drivers, like driving a car on ice. Travelling at reduced speeds can therefore be neccessary to avoid the train's wheels spinning and sliding when braking and accelerating. 

Why do some routes have a different timetable for Autumn?

By working to an amended timetables, our aim is to continue to provide the best and most reliable train service possible. We've found that revised timings, with some stops taken out (like we do on the Cross City Line) gives our trains more time to cope with the reduced speeds needed to overcome the issues we face. Overall, we can provide a more realistic expectation of journey times - rather than making last minute changes throughout the day. 

It's not just our network that has opted to revise the timetable during Autumn - some other Train Operating Companies also run amended timetables during this time - please visit the National Rail to see if any of these changes may affect you. 

What is the industry doing to combat the issues faced as a result of Leaf fall? 

Alot of work goes into planning and preparing for Autumn each year. We invest alot of money tackling leaf fall and work closely with Network Rail (who maintain the rail network and infrastructure) to mitigate the effects. Routes through areas where there are lots of well-established line-side trees, such as the Cross City route from Redditch through to Lichfield, are particularly vulnerable. Here is just some of the work carried out to tackle leaf fall:

  • Trees & vegetation cut back to reduce the amount of leaves falling onto the track
  • High pressure water jetting, using specialist trains to clean the tracks and remove residue
  • Specialist 'traction gel applicators' fitted to our trains, releasing a gel that improves grip between wheel & rail

You can find more information about the seasonal challenges facing the railway network & the steps that are being taken to combat them by visiting the Network Rail website.