NJ Transit is utilizing its two AquaTrack machines to clean fallen leaves off its rails.
The AquaTrack equipment is a high-pressure power-washing system that removes leaves and oily residue from the tracks in an effort to prevent train delays caused by slippery rail conditions.
This will be the second year NJ Transit has used two of these rail-cleaning machines. While it has been using AquaTrack since 2003, the transit authority purchased a second power-washing system last year to maintain a larger coverage area in order to help prevent delays.
The AquaTrack system consists of two 250-horsepower diesel-engine units mounted on a flat car with an operator control cab. Two pressure-pump units dispense water up to 20,000 pounds-per-square-inch directly to the top of the rail. The process uses 17 gallons of water per minute.
“While there is no way to completely eliminate the effect Mother Nature has on the railroad, the AquaTrack units have had great success in managing leaf-related slippage on our rails,” said NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro. “By utilizing these two highly specialized pieces of equipment, we can keep the rails free and clear of fallen leaves, increasing safety and keeping trains running on time.”
In addition to AquaTrack, NJ Transit strategically spreads sand on the rails in front of peak-period trains to increase traction. NJ Transit also trims trees to help stem the amount of leaves on the tracks. The leaf clearing operation runs from mid-October through mid-December.