A Warwickshire company believes that it can permanently solve the problem of leaves on the line, by fitting trains with anti-slip devices that cost just £30,000 apiece.
Water-Trak’s equipment has undergone a year’s trial on a Northern Class 319 unit (319368) and was paraded before the industry at Allerton depot on Merseyside on November 24. Two diesel multiple units have also been involved in the test.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield, led by Professor Roger Lewis, have come up with Cryogenic Rail Head Treatment, which uses dry ice pellets in a stream of high-pressure air. It freezes the leaves, and as the pellets turn back to gas, they are blasted away from the rails.
The yearly savings for Network Rail could run into many millions. If the equipment is adopted nationwide, NR will be able to rapidly shrink its current fleet of 29 Railhead Treatment Trains (RHTTs), each of which costs up to £30,000 a week to operate every autumn, but which still do not cover lesser-used routes.
Traditional sanding gear may also become a thing of the past.
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