Say goodbye to train delays due to slippery leaves on the track! Dry ice device that freezes leaves and turns them brittle could be rolled out across the UK by 2024

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  • dry ice device that freezes and removes leaves from train tracks to roll out
  • The University of Sheffield’s leaf clearing technology could be used across the UK by 2024
  • It will be tested by operator Northern on a passenger train in the coming weeks
  • Foliage makes railway lines slippery, causing delays as trains must move at a slower speed

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Dry ice will be detonated on railway lines across northern England as part of a trial aimed at reducing delays caused by leaves on the track.

The leaf-clearing device pioneered by British engineers could be rolled out across the UK by 2024.

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It has been developed by experts from the University of Sheffield and will be tested by operator Northern on a passenger train in the coming weeks.

Similar to black ice on roads, leaves cause a slippery layer on railway lines that forces trains to run slower, leading to delays.

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Under the new method, which aims to remove leaves more efficiently than current techniques, pellets of dry ice are fired from a passenger train into an air stream toward the rail, causing the leaves to become frozen and brittle.

The dry ice then quickly turns back into a gas, causing it to expand and destroy the leaves.

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Innovation: Dry ice will be blasted on railway lines across northern England as part of a trial aimed at reducing delays caused by leaves on the track. Leading leaf-clearing device (pictured) by British engineers could be rolled out across the UK by 2024

How does this work?  Under the new method, pellets of dry ice are thrown from a passenger train into an air stream on railroad tracks, causing the leaves to become frozen and brittle.  The dry ice then quickly turns back into a gas, causing it to expand and destroy the leaves.

How does this work? Under the new method, pellets of dry ice are thrown from a passenger train into an air stream on railroad tracks, causing the leaves to become frozen and brittle. The dry ice then quickly turns back into a gas, causing it to expand and destroy the leaves.

What are ‘leaves on the line’?

Slippery rails – commonly called ‘leaves on the line’ – result when trains do not hold the rails properly when build up on the track.

This can cause the locomotive’s wheels to slip rapidly and slip while trying to apply the brakes.

The most common cause of buildup comes from damp leaves, which cling to the top of the rail.

They actually help to pull the leaves towards the tracks after the trains pass through the air.

Leaves grow slowly, as they do not deteriorate rapidly when trains pass over them.

The problem has gotten worse since the introduction of disc brakes, which replaced brake shoes that would help remove the leaves from the train wheels by removing them.

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The leaves are currently cleared by 61 special trains, which deploy jets of high-pressure water to aid in braking, followed by a gel containing grains of sand and steel.

But the engineers behind the dry ice system claim their method is significantly more efficient because it can be used by passenger trains that cover longer distances than a limited fleet of cleaning trains.

It also does not leave a residue that can damage rails and train wheels, and can be used more than once a day on the same section of railway.

The system has already been tested on the test track and is expected to be widely launched by 2024.

Professor Roger Lewis, who is leading the development of the new method, said: ‘This technology will make a step forward in train performance during the autumn, while improving safety.

‘This will provide more predictable braking and traction than current technology, and will be designed with new technologies to improve train performance, reduce delays, increase passenger satisfaction and enable greater network utilization of UK railways. will help support the use.

‘It will be great for commuters, but also for all train operators and Network Rail. It will make their life a lot easier.’

Rob Cummings, seasonal improvement manager at Northern, said: ‘We are very excited to test this new technology during the autumn period.

The device has been developed by experts from the University of Sheffield and will be tested by operator Northern on a passenger train in the coming weeks.

The device has been developed by experts from the University of Sheffield and will be tested by operator Northern on a passenger train in the coming weeks.

The leaves are currently cleared by 61 special trains, which deploy jets of high-pressure water to aid in braking, followed by a gel containing grains of sand and steel.

The leaves are currently cleared by 61 special trains, which deploy jets of high-pressure water to aid in braking, followed by a gel containing grains of sand and steel.

‘One of the biggest risks to our performance during October and November is being on the line, but by helping to develop new technology we aim to deliver the best service for our passengers.’

The method was first developed in 2015 by University of Sheffield engineers.

Researchers conducted previous tests using dry-ice technology in 2019 for trains in Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire and Sutton Park, West Midlands, Blackpool, West Highlands and Swansea.

Experts said it has proved to be significantly more effective in removing leaves from the line, preventing delays and improving braking distance for trains as compared to existing cleaning methods.

Engineers claim that their method is more efficient than other technologies because it can be used by passenger trains, which cover greater distances than a limited fleet of cleaning trains.

Engineers claim that their method is more efficient than other technologies because it can be used by passenger trains, which cover greater distances than a limited fleet of cleaning trains.

‘The leaves on the line are a major problem for the rail industry. They cause significant delays in training services, causing disruption for passengers, and the issue costs the industry millions of pounds each year,’ Professor Lewis said.

‘The tests we’ve done over the past two years show it’ [the new system] Cleans tracks more effectively [than other current methods], significantly reduces delays and improves stopping distances.’

About 10 million trees are on Britain’s railway line, and thousands of tons of leaves fall on the tracks every autumn.

When trains pass over the leaves, it forms a slippery layer, which has the same effect as black ice on roads.

This leads to delays because trains must slow down, go slow and apply brakes first.

Autumn-related issues cost the railway industry approximately £345 million each year.

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