Slippery leaves may cause train-stop closure

3:42 min

Local governments see public transport as a way to cut down on emissions, yet as Stockholm County’s public-transport department warns it may shut down a local railway stop, some commuters say they may have to start using their cars.

Ulrika Westergren is waiting for the train, which stops here at Bråvallavägen two or three times an hour, to take her to work in the city. But she may not be able to rely on this train for much longer since the county wants to shut down the train stop. If that happens, Westergren says, she would probably drive to work instead.

Stockholm County's transport department argues that only about 200 passengers take the train from Bråvallavägen each day, and that closing the stop will make the line more efficient for 8,000 passengers, by opening up the line for a better traffic flow.

Christian Hoffman, a press officer at the county's public-transport department, says passengers who are affected can go to one of the neighboring stations instead. He adds that this station is prone to the problem of slippery leaves, which have been called “a conductor's worst enemy”. Slippery leaves on the tracks can make it hard for stopped trains to get enough traction to start up again, and this leads to delays.

In general, slippery leaves can be big problem for Swedish trains, and are blamed for causing delays and even danger. In the investigation of the derailment of a train in Sala, central Sweden last autumn, the Swedish Transport Administration determined that slippery leaves were the culprit.

It is a problem researchers have been working to solve for a long time. Six years ago, media reported that a solution was near. Researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), along with the Swedish Transport Administration and SL, which operates public transit in the greater Stockholm area, told Swedish Radio that they had figured out how the phenomenon worked, and that that was a big step towards figuring out how to solve it.

But despite those efforts, slippery leaves during certain times of the year are clearly still a problem. As for the idea of cutting down the offending tree branches at the Bråvallavägen station, Christian Hoffman at the county transport department told Radio Sweden that is not really his department's area.

Stockholm County is now discussing its proposal to close down Bråvallavägen's train stop with the Danderyd municipality. The county hopes the final decision will be made next month.