Wet leaves on railroad tracks are a seasonal hazard because they can cause “slippery rail” conditions, New Jersey Transit says.
To that end, the agency is bringing out its high-pressure power-washing system known as AquaTrack.
“Though the fall foliage makes for a scenic commute when the leaves are still on the trees, after they fall onto our railroad tracks, they can become quite a nuisance for us and our rail customers,” NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein says in a press release. “AquaTrack continues to play a vital role in helping to combat slippery rail and keep trains running on time.”
AquaTrack will be doing its thing starting this week until mid-December.
Here’s a nifty video of it in action.
The system runs on the Pascack Valley and Main/Bergen County lines – which both serve Rockland – on weekends. It operates on the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton lines Monday through Friday, once overnight and again during midday hours.
Falling leaves and wet weather make for a dangerous combination and is age-old problem in the Northeast, as NJ Transit explains:
When falling leaves are crushed by train wheels, the decaying leaf material creates an oily residue that coats the rails, resulting in poor traction for trains and resulting delays.
NJ Transit began using AquaTrack in October 2003. The system is pushed or pulled along its routes by a diesel locomotive, includes two 250-horsepower diesel-engine units mounted on a flat car with an operator control cab. Two pressure-pump units operate up to 20,000 pounds-per-square-inch at 17 gallons per minute, delivering water directly to the top of the rail, according to the agency.
Journal News/LoHud.com file photo