Leaves on line force tilting trains to slow

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The Independent Online

Virgin has been forced to cut the speed of its new tilting trains because the brakes cannot cope with the age-old problem of leaves on the line.

In recent weeks, the Pendolino trains have twice gone through red signals and hit the buffers twice at Liverpool's Lime Street station.

Virgin Trains has reduced the top speed from 125mph to 110mph after the Health and Safety Executive issued an enforcement notice. The HSE told Virgin the braking arrangements for their trains were"not suitable and sufficient in conditions of low adhesion".

There has been a number of incidents including a Pendolino going through a red light at Rugby on 21 October and another at Nuneaton four days later. Virgin drivers have also experienced braking problems elsewhere on the network.

David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Every rail user in the country knows that we have leaves on our lines. It just defies belief that this was not considered when the tilting Pendolinos were considered."

A Virgin spokeswoman said drivers had been briefed on "low-adhesion driving techniques" to cope with the problem of leaves. The new faster Pendolino services, which were launched two months ago by the Prime Minister, ran billions of pounds over budget and arrived a few years late.

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