RAIL operator Northern – which runs services on the Airedale line – is taking steps to tackle a traditional autumnal problem.

Leaves on the line can cause major issues for trains and seriously disrupt services.

The wet leaves get compressed into a smooth, slippery layer – reducing trains’ grip.

And damage can be caused to the wheels.

But measures have been introduced to combat the threat.

Rob Cummings, Northern’s seasonal performance improvement manager, said: “The debris from falling leaves can cause significant disruption to the network.

“But to keep disruption to a minimum, we’re working hard to ensure the tracks are in the best possible condition.

“Our trains are fitted with sand blasters – which treat the tracks as they move – and Network Rail has leaf-busting maintenance trains, which blast water and sand onto the tracks to remove leaves and provide more grip for passenger and freight trains.

“We have also introduced special timetables on problematic routes and our drivers have advanced training to help develop techniques which further reduce the impact of slippery rails.”

In addition, a new state-of-the-art wheel lathe was installed at Northern’s Neville Hill depot in Leeds in time for autumn. The lathe repairs wheels by shaving away metal.