PATCO will shift to its annual "leaf season" schedule beginning on Monday, October 31, 2022.
"Train operators, much like when we drive in snow on the roads, drive slower and need more time to start and stop," said John D. Rink, General Manager, PATCO. "To account for longer run times, we have a special leaf season schedule every fall."
The falling foliage leaves behind an oily residue when crushed by train wheels. This slick residue creates slippery rail conditions, which require trains to operate at reduced speeds with longer trip times. The loss of traction has the potential to flatten out areas of the train’s wheel surfaces resulting in the wheel rolling unevenly and emitting a thumping sound. When this occurs, the train is taken out of service to repair or replace the misshapen wheel. This could lead to train delays or cancellations.
During ideal weather conditions, PATCO trains will reach a max speed of 65 mph. However, to prevent sliding, during the leaf season schedule, trains will operate at 50 mph during arrivals and departures at New Jersey stations from Lindenwold to Westmont.
PATCO takes proactive measures to minimize the impact to customers from leaf oil accumulation. Special PATCO crews use high-pressure washing equipment to scour the rails during the off-peak and evening hours. The schedule adjustments also allow for this work to occur on the rails between trains.
While PATCO takes steps to reduce the severity of slippery rail, PATCO cannot eliminate it. PATCO will continue its efforts behind the scenes to minimize the impact on your commute until all the leaves have fallen. If a train runs a little slower or is delayed due to slippery rails, it is because the safety of everyone is our highest priority.
Riders should expect this schedule to continue until around the beginning of December or when most of the leaves have fallen.
To view the schedule, please click here.