Turning over a new leaf


It’s that time of the year when ‘leaves on the line’ can leave rail commuters facing frustrating delays. But the perennial challenge of removing debris from lines is one the rail industry could do without too – especially as it can cost up to £345m to resolve.

Help may now be at hand though, thanks to work from the University of Sheffield. In a new project, funded by Network Rail, researchers are producing a plan to install their pioneering leaf-busting technology underneath Northern’s passenger trains in the North of England.

The cleaning system, developed from its Department of Mechanical Engineering, works by firing dry ice pellets in a stream of air at supersonic speed at the railhead, freezing any leaves on the line. The frozen leaves are then blasted away as the dry ice pellets turn back into a gas.

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