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Network Rail will use cutting edge AI technology to battle its toughest foe: Leaves on the line

Network Rail will use cutting edge AI technology to battle its toughest foe: Leaves on the line

  • Fallen leaves and shrubs on the track consistently cause delays for commuters 
  • The Department of Transport will plough millions into the new scheme 
  • Trials are scheduled from July 1 on a 15-mile stretch of the London Overground 

Network Rail is set to make the life of commuters much easier by introducing cutting edge AI technology to battles leaves on the line.

Fallen leaves on the track have been an issue for many taking their daily commute for years and now experts are set to banish the issue by using technology to predict where trees and shrubs risk disrupting your journey.

A trial is being funding by the Department of Transport who are ploughing cash into the scheme in order to reduce the number of delays caused.

Leaves on the track (pictured above) have often equaled delays from commuter up and down the UK 

The technology has been developed by Hack Partners in London and will use cameras in the train cab which will be able to give a driver’s eye view of any vegetation on the track.

According to The Times, the footage is then fed into an AI system, which can predict where and when problems will occur.

This will included branches hitting train windows and trees which are about to shed their leaves.

Co-founder and chief executive of Hack Partner, River Tamoor Baig (pictured above) said the system would not lead to more trees having to be chopped down

Co-founder and chief executive of Hack Partner, River Tamoor Baig (pictured above) said the system would not lead to more trees having to be chopped down

The co-founder and chief executive of Hack Partner, River Tamoor Baig highlighted that the system would not lead to trees being chopped down but would make it easier for them to be managed.

Trials are scheduled from July 1 on a 15-mile stretch of the London Overground and will continue for nine months.

The strange attempts rail bosses have used to get leaves off the line

With Network Rail playing to introduce cutting edge technology – how else have we tackled leaves in the past?

In Victorian times, workers with buckets and cloths scrubbed foliage off the line.

Other remedies include a Scandinavian-built locomotive, equipped with 16 wire brushes, known as the ‘Swedish Scrubber’.

In 1973 Network Rail established a ‘Neutral Zone’ to cover leaf-fall delays.

This is while in 2015 it introduced 55 ‘leaf-busting’ trains that travelled 22,000 miles of track shooting out high-pressure jets of water. 

If successful, they could be rolled out to other commuter lines.

Last year a report was published which stated that Network Rail treated the management of trees and shrubs as an afterthought.

In 2017-2018 there were nearly 19,000 incidents of branches and fallen trees on the line, a substantial rise from the 2009-2010 which sat at 11,000.

This is while in 2017 more than 1,750 trains were cancelled because of fallen trees, with delays of 3.261 hours being based due to leaves on the line – a 70 per cent rise in a decade.

The Department for Transport, along with Innovate UK are set to announce new plans for £7.8 million to be invested in 24 trials of projects to improve the railway. Each scheme will be given between £250,000 and £350,000.

As well as the new AI technology, other schemes being funded will include a noise barrier made by Dutch company 4Silence, which can deflect the sounds of passing trains.

AI expert and co-founder of AI Business, Dan Pitchford said the new initiative from the Department for Transport was ‘welcome news’.

‘The government is realising how smart uses of technology can improve our infrastructure – and small changes like this railway investment, although it may seem mundane, pave the way for larger-scale applications can improve our daily lives.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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