Every autumn, railway operators have to deal with the problem of fallen leaves on tracks. Leaves that fall on tracks and get compressed by heavy passing trains form a thin film on the track, which impacts braking and acceleration. The need for more gradual braking and slower acceleration ultimately delays services.
The Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB) have investigated a range of solutions, including magnetic braking, the use of dry ice to remove moisture from tracks, and the use of sand to improve traction.
The Imagination Factory are currently developing a solution that uses microwave technology to address this perennial problem, blasting the leaves with 120 kilowatt rays. Similar technology has been attempted in the past but with limited success.
The Imagination Factory’s method uses small cables in front of the train wheels, which produce powerful rays to dissipate water from the tracks.
The technology will be trailed on test tracks in the coming months in the West Midlands, UK.