Now that the leaves have started to fall around the Hudson Valley most of us are taking into consideration that wet leaves on a roadway can cause a hazard. But how many of us have actually thought about wet leaves on train tracks?

I commuted to New York City out of Beacon, New York for years and never gave much thought to leaves on the railroad tracks. As you know, most of our train line down to the city is tree lined so this time of year the tracks could easily be covered with leaves. Add a little rain to that situation and you have what the MTA refers to as a slip-slide.

Why Are Fall Leaves a Problems for Trains?

-MTA Netro-north Railroad via Facebook
-MTA Netro-north Railroad via Facebook

Early today, I came across information that the MTA shared on social media that not only explained what slip-slide means but how it could interfere with the train schedule causing problems for commuters.

They have taken steps to address the issue but that doesn't mean delays still aren't possible.

Leaves Can Delay Commuter Trains on the Hudson and Harlem Lines

So how do leaves cause train problems? It is actually pretty obvious but not likely something any of us think about. Slip-slide occurs when the leaves on the tracks get run over and broken down. They then cause a slimy substance on the tracks.

Slip-slide is a condition created by a slimy substance left by crushed leaves on our rails that gets even more slippery after it rains. When a train attempts to speed up or slow down, this substance can cause the wheels to slip or slide along the rails. In severe cases the train will automatically make an emergency stop, because the on-board computer system perceives "slip-sliding" as the train not slowing down when it should. (via MTA)

The MTA goes on to say that this condition can also lead to "flat spots" on the train's wheels. When this happens, they have to take the train out for service for repairs.

To prevent this, the MTA has taken measures to clear the tracks. They also have a cleaning process they use when slip-slide spots on the tracks are reported.

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The MTA shared this information to keep train riders informed. They want people to understand how this can cause delays.

Please keep in mind that while we can reduce the incidents of slippery rail, we cannot eliminate them. We will continue our efforts to try to minimize any delays and inconvenience slippery rail may create for you this autumn. And, as always, we appreciate your patience. (via MTA)


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