Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 6:35 pm

Autumn Leaves, Slippery Rail

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Autumn leaves. (Cue music.) It’s hard to believe, but leaves on tracks pose a serious problem for railroad operations — the oil they exude, combined with water and the pressure from trains passing over them, make for slippery conditions, Joe reports, pointing to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The result? “[T]rains have to travel up to a third more slowly, need wheel reshaping far more frequently as a result of excessive braking and skidding and are thus out of service for increased periods of time, all of which cumulatively cause train trips in October and November in the eastern U.S. to experience major drops in on-time performance, on some routes from 95% to the low eighties.” And it’s even worse in the U.K.

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