Explanation of what Water Cannons are - TheGhostStationHunters

Picture 1: Locomotive Hauled Water Cannons

Pulling into Nunthorpe station

Picture 1A: Loco Hauled Water Cannons with Wagons

37 608 on rear and rest of train

picture 2: Multiple Purpose Vehicle also known as MPV

Front end <br />
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98954 <br />
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sits under signal LE46 waiting for the signal and the feathers
MPV <br />
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98901 / 98951 <br />
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James Street Merseyrail Emergency Wirral line platform <br />
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12th Nov 2010

What are Rail Head Treatment Trains / Water cannons??


Every autumn all over the Rail network when the Trees start to shed there leaves, the leaves fall onto or near the track and with the constant movement of trains over the Rails the Leaves can become stuck to the top or sides of the running rails, a good example is you often sometimes see plastic bags maybe seeming welded to the rails on occasions well just imagine the Plastic bag as a leaf.

This in turn can cause the trains wheels to slip and also cause braking problems. bit like a car skidding on Icy roads in the winter

For a more in depth explanation see this link off Wikipedia about slippery rails open in a new window

Slippery rail explanation off Wikipedia Link


So as a way to combat this during the Leaf Fall Season that runs usually from early September through to sometimes late November various trains are run during the days and over night all over the Rail network that spray one of two things 

1. High pressure water Jets from wagons that contain water and generator wagon that pumps the water to the Jets etc which are operated by a drivers mate in the cab via a remote control unit

These trains are commonly referred to as Water Cannons or Rail Head Treatment Trains or RHTT for short

2. Down South and in areas where there are Third Rail (electric Rails) like around London and on the Merseyrail Network in Liverpool where the trains are powered by electric from a electric rail next to the running rail they run trains that spray a substance called Sandite onto the electric rails to combat leaves and also during the winter to combat the rails from freezing up. 

Sandite is basically a mixture of sand / aluminium and an adhesive substance that they spray on the electric rails etc

For more information on what sandite is etc see this Link off Wikipedia opens in new window

Sandite Explanation Link

What types of trains do they use to combat this problem?

Types of Trains Used to Apply Water Jets and Sandite

There are two Types of trains that are run during the Leaf Fall  season

1. If you scroll back to the top and look at

Picture number one

That shows a Locomotive hauled train that comprises of a locomotive at either end and in between are two wagons one that contains water in tanks and the second is a generator wagon.

Picture one shows a Loco hauled train face on actually spraying water Jets

Picture 1A

Shows the Locos at Either end and the Wagons in the middle

Locomotive hauled trains using various types of Locomotives run all around Yorkshire and London etc to name a few places i mainly go to Middlesbrough most Leaf Fall Seasons because they have Loco Hauled trains that run during the day and you can get pictures usually if you lucky in about 3 - 4 locations. 

The second type of train that is used is called a Multiple Purpose Vehicle also known as an MPV. These mainly work around The Merseyrail system in Liverpool and various parts of the South and London

Pictures 2 & 3

show an MPV from different angles they work on the same principle as Loco Hauled Trains with a giant tanker either full of water or Sandite

for more information on what an MPV is see link below opens in a new window

MPV Explanation Link

Thanks for reading and i hope that it makes the gallery's in this section make more sense