The end of leaves on the line? New sand blasting device could end rail hell for commuters (though it won’t be around for at least another year)
- Millions of leaves fall on railway lines every autumn and cause severe delays
- Many operators are forced to run different timetables to avoid the problem
- The device is fitted to the front of the train and sprays sand to clear fallen leaves
A new device could end severe delays for passengers by blasting sand to clear fallen leaves on railway lines.
Thousands of tonnes of leaves fall on railway lines every autumn and stick to damp tracks to create a slippery layer of mush.
The problem wreaks havoc with trains- it causes them to have less grip, spinning wheels and they must take longer to stop.
Fallen leaves costs the industry £300 million a year and causes thousands of cancellations and delays, much to the frustration of passengers.
Fallen leaves costs the industry £300 million a year and causes thousands of cancellations and delays. File photo
Many operators are forced to run different timetables to avoid the fallen leaves, some of which will come into service this week.
The problem has even forced Network Rail to work around the clock in autumn to remove trees close to railway lines and run trains that spray jets of water to clear the path.
But even those efforts are not enough to stop the leaves from blocking the path.
The new sand blasting device is being tested and could be rolled out to every train by next autumn.
The new device is fitted to the front of the train and sprays sand ahead at different speeds to clear leaves from the tracks. File photo
The new device is fitted to the front of the train and sprays sand ahead at different speeds- depending on how fast the train is going.
It has even been proven to reduce skidding past red lights by 98 per cent and station overruns by 96 per cent.
Luisa Moisio, the board’s research and development director, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘If the trains can achieve the braking distance on which the timetable is based, we would not need to run another timetable.’
Most modern trains already have a sand box fitted however there were worries that it could interfere with electrical signals.
But now it has proven to be safe and all new trains will be fitted with the device.