Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Brighton trains leave early to beat leaves on the line threat
They are the four small words that are responsible for clenched fists, gritted teeth and muttered curses from commuters every autumn – leaves on the line.
This year to try to combat the annual transport disruption caused by nature, train companies are to run early morning schedules a few minutes earlier.
Train operators First Capital Connect and Southern have announced changes to their schedules from next week to overcome the autumnal problems.
The firms say that fallen leaves crushed under the wheels of trains can create an extremely slippery coating on the tracks that can be as dangerous as black ice is for motorists.
This slippery coating can affect how quickly trains can speed up and slow down.
To tackle the leafy menace, Network Rail will also run specialised trains which remove the greasy leaf mulch from tracks with high-pressure water jets and lay Sandite, a mixture of sand and aluminium, onto the rails to give trains more traction.
The rail authority is also cutting back trees and bushes alongside tracks.
First Capital Connect said the first three Thameslink trains from Brighton each morning at 5.10am, 5.40am and 5.50am will all leave up to three minutes earlier.
The timetable changes will affect weekday services from Monday until Friday, December 7.
A company spokesman said: “Extending a couple of morning journey times by a few minutes will allow us to deliver a more consistent service through the autumn.”
Southern has announced that a small number of weekday morning peak services will start their journeys a few minutes earlier to ensure that they arrive at their final destinations on time.
Changes will come into effect on Monday and will last for two months on 2% of the operator’s services.
The routes affected by the changes are particularly susceptible to heavy leaf fall in the areas prior to joining the Brighton Main Line.
Routes affected include London services from East Grinstead, Horsham and Uckfield.
A Southern spokesman said: “By starting a few minutes earlier at both the departure station and at stations on the way to the Brighton Main Line, any late running caused by slippery rails should be negated, allowing the train to reach its final destination on time.”