During autumn, leaf fall contamination on the rail head increases the risk of low adhesion.
During autumn, leaf fall can contaminate the rail-heads across your network increasing the risk of low adhesion. The volume of leaves falling and potentially causing contamination can vary significantly day-to-day, depending on the weather and the behaviour of different trees.
High winds, storms and frosts accelerate leaf-fall with the greatest risk occurring mid-season, when most leaves fall from the trees. The ADAS/Met Office leaf-fall risk (LFR) prediction service warns of leaf-fall contamination up to five days ahead.
Our predictions are used to inform mitigation strategies, reducing the likelihood of safety breaches (e.g. Category A SPADS, station overruns and wrong-side track circuit failures) as well as delays.
ADAS and the Met Office have developed a leaf-fall prediction model that takes into account forecast wind speeds, the volume of leaves remaining on the trees, accumulated leaf litter on the ground and the behaviour of different types of trees. The model also accounts for the effect of frosts and storms on leaf-fall rates.
Our model is unique because it:
Each autumn the service provides:
Rail Operator, Translink, uses our leaf-fall prediction service. Find out more about our work with them to help reduce operating expenditure and increase efficiency by viewing the Translink case study (PDF, 747 kB) .
Available since 1995, the LFR prediction service is delivered by the Met Office Rural Environment Team - a group of Met Office experts based at ADAS - who bring together the best in meteorology and ecology. ADAS is a leading land-based research consultancy with over 40 years experience.
Last updated: 23 September 2013