Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rogue wet leaves

I have no idea which train it was tonight that couldn't get up the incline into Danforth Station, but I'm going to guess it was the 4:53 aka 16:53 Lakeshore East train.

Why you ask?

Because of these:
That's right. Leaves.

Specifically, wet leaves on the tracks.

We were told the engine's wheels of the train two cars ahead of us was experiencing "slippage" on the rails. I'm sure the engineers scrambled for a word that sounded ominous yet technical at the same time.

I received quite a few texts from riders expressing frustration at GO for not having a plan in place to deal with "slippage" as Fall comes every year, rain isn't a new weather phenomenon and it's not a secret that wet leaves are slippery.

I guess it's time for steel chains or somethin' ... because arriving home an hour behind schedule because someone couldn't find a broom and a black garbage bag or provide basic preventative track maintenance requires a better word than "slippage".


Dan said...

Usually the locomotives have sanding devices that squirt sand on the rails to help prevent slippage (like TTC streetcars), but some railways like VIA don't bother to fill them up/have removed them to save money.

Maybe it was a VIA ahead that got stuck.

Anonymous said...

Dan is right. The tracks are leased from CN/VIA and it's expected they are to maintain them. Someone dropped the ball and we all paid for it last night. I missed a 6:30 appointment at Lakeridge Oshawa with a specialist that took months to book and have to pay a penalty of $50 and wait another 4 to 6 months for another time.

Thanks CN. You rock.

TomW said...

Actually, leaves on the rails causes more problems thean you might think. The weight of the train squishes the leaves into a very hard, shiny and slippery veneer, which is also exteremly difficult to clean off.

Trying to drive a train on such conditions is similar to driving on an icey road: you have no grip, so you get wheelspin. You also have to brake very early and gently to avoid skidding clean past the station.

The track owner can either blast off the leaf-veneer with water jets; apply something on top of increase grip; or cut down the trees beside the line. Either way, the fault lies firmly with CN, because they own and maintain the line.

Personally, I think GO should publish the phone number of the person at CN responsible for this, so passenegers can ring them up and vent.

Anonymous said...

As a streetcar operator, I can attest to the fact that leaves (whether dry or wet) cause very slippery rail. Compound the fact of time of day (morning is the worst at any time of year, followed by dusk), temperature changes (includes prior reason), shadows, and the fact that that rail in itself is already slippery and you have dangerous conditions of operation for customers. Streetcars don't cancel, we just deal with it. In winter for us salt film lasts for days and can create "black rail." We, as other rail vehicles do, use sand, track lights (the two that look like headlights bu are aimed at the track, only have one headlight), and training.

As a side note we get great traction in the rain and fresh snow (minus switches).

Safety is always a top priority for our customers, as well as other road users and pedestrians. Too bad motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians don't think the same.

C.J. Smith said...

Dear streetcar operator
Thanks for the input!

Speaking of traffic safety, check out my other site:

Hope to have you as a commenter over there.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that we've only started having these "slippery rail" situations since the introduction of the new locomotives. Has anyone else noticed that they're started re-introducing the old locomotives on some of the lines... Smells to me like there's a problem here that GO isn't fully admitting to...