Rodents menace in railways!

Rats attack the railways
By Heidi Blake, The Telegraph, UK

Rat attacks are causing chaos on the railways, with hundreds of trains breaking down as the rodents gnaw through vital cables.

Transport bosses are preparing to spend millions preventing rats and mice from chewing tiny holes in power and IT wires laid alongside the UK’s 20,000 miles of rail track.

A small hole gnawed through an inch-thick high voltage power cable caused a breakdown on the West Coast mainline in Cheshire last month, leading to 20 train cancellations and 99 delays.

Two weeks earlier, a special service carrying football fans to Carlisle United’s FA Cup match against Everton was just one of 107 trains cancelled and another 289 delayed by a similar problem between Preston and Lancaster.

A two-year program is under way to strengthen the rail system’s defences by laying steel armoured replacement cables, and a Network Rail spokesman admitted yesterday that the project would cost millions.

“This is a serious problem and it does happen throughout the county,” he said.

“We’ve got 20,000 miles of railway, all of which has got various types of cable whether it is signaling cable, telecommunications cable, or power supply cable running alongside the line.

“It’s going to cost us millions. But if you take into consideration the problems that instances like this cause – we effectively pay compensation to any delays that are caused to trains operators – having to spend money on replacement cables is going to save us money.”

Eric Martlew, the MP for Carlisle, was delayed on his way to watch Carlisle United play Everton on January 2.

He said; “It’s a nonsense that the whole of the West Coast mainline could have been brought to a standstill by a mouse.

“The point is it should never have happened – the wires should have been protected and mighty mouse shouldn’t have been allowed to stop Carlisle United fans in their tracks in this way.”

Craig Johnston, a member of the RMT rail unions national executive committee, said he was astonished by the explanation for the delays.

“I’ve worked on the railways for 26 years and I’ve never heard anything like it – I find it difficult to believe,” he said.

Rodents have always been a big nuisance to the passengers of Railways, especially those travelling by long-distance trains.  Rats lurking around in train in search of food and things to chew and damage is a common sight. Rats are found in train because of easy access to food in the pantry area and passenger luggage. These pesky creatures create unhygienic conditions infesting the pantry area and depositing their waste wherever they like. Also, they often chew through passengers bags damaging their belongings. Many a times, they even bite and injure the passengers. They are certainly capable of transmitting several bacterial and viral diseases to travelers.

Apart from contamination of food, rodents also pose a huge threat to the passenger’s safety by chewing on the signaling cables, brake cables etc. A signaling system for a rail network needs to have timely information on the position of trains and the occupancy status of track sections. Signaling cables, power cables, brake cables fall prey to damages inflicted by rodents. In order to avoid the overgrowth of their incisors, rodents chew on these cables thus impairing them. Such damages could cause electrical short circuits, incorrect signals, miscommunication leading to train collisions, derailment, fire in train etc. Let us look at one such incident in France pertaining to the damage caused by rodent in Railways.

Near disaster on a railway caused by rats signals continued vigilance for cable installers
August 2014, France

At the beginning of July, a high-speed TGV train was struck from behind by a regional train in south west France. The regional train had passed a signal wrongly set on green and the potentially catastrophic malfunction was caused by rodents gnawing through trackside signal cables, an SNCF inquiry found.

The accident at Pau has prompted the French national railway to carry out an urgent check on 10,000 signals to prevent any further occurrences of what it says was an ‘exceptional and unprecedented’ incident.

Efforts by the Railways need to be quadrupled to effectively deal with this problem. It has been proved time and again that the conventional pest control strategies have failed and lakhs of rupees have gone down the drain. Thus we need to look for an alternative solution for this problem in order to combat the pest menace in railways.

C Tech Corporation can offer a solution to this problem. Our products Rodrepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous rodent  aversive. It is available in the form of masterbatches which can be directly incorporated in the polymer matrix during processing of wires and cables. This would result in the final cable or wire being rodent  repellent. This would be an efficient way of deterring the rodents from chewing the cables and wires and thus negate the possibility of a short circuit. Gruesome accidents like above can thus be avoided.

Rodrepel™ is also available in lacquer form and can be applied directly on the outside as well as inside of the railway coaches. The product can effectively control the proliferation of these undesired pests! Rodrepel™ is RoHS, RoHS2 and REACH compliant and FIFRA exempted.