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Slippery Rail Season is Upon Us!

October 23, 2023

As you're looking out your train or trolley window admiring autumn's vivid leaf colors - SEPTA crews are also closely watching Mother Nature's handiwork and the falling leaves 🍂 that create "slippery rails".

Leaves crushed by passing rail vehicles deposit a residue on the tracks which decreases the friction of a train's wheels - creating slippery rails. When this happens - travel speeds are reduced to maintain safe operations - especially on inclines and declines and when vehicles approach station platform areas.

SEPTA takes a proactive approach to battling slippery rails by deploying crews during overnight hours to clean tracks using a combination of water and gel to remove oily deposits from the tracks. They also use high-pressure washing equipment to blast away leaves and their residue. In addition - sand is spread on the tracks to help increase traction.

The length of slippery rail season depends on Fall weather conditions and the quirks of Mother Nature. Typically - slippery rail season runs from late October through mid-December but until the weather turns frosty and all the leaves have fallen - SEPTA maintains a consistent program of cleaning and removal.

Getting you to your destination without delays or inconvenience is very important - but ensuring that your trip is safe always takes precedence. So please allow some extra time to complete your trip in case conditions call for reduced travel speeds.