by Tiana May
06 Apr 2023
Northern and the University of Sheffield have developed and demonstrated a new ‘supersonic-cryogenic’ autumn leaf blower that can be fitted on to passenger trains to clear leaves from the line.
The new solution was recently demonstrated at the Wensleydale Railway in North Yorkshire using two retired Pacer trains.
With this technology, Northern aims to prevent autumn disruptions caused by fallen leaves, which stick to damp rails and compress into a slippery layer that reduces a train’s grip.
Currently, railway lines are cleared using railhead treatment trains (RHTTs), but these are expensive to run and in short supply.
Northern’s new solution therefore has the potential to provide improved treatment at a lower cost.
“This is a gamechanger for the industry – the next step in finding a solution to tricky autumn conditions.
“One of the biggest risks to our performance during October and November is 'leaves on the line', but by helping to develop new innovative technology we aim to deliver the very best service for our passengers.”
The new treatment technology is small enough to be attached to passenger trains. It works by firing dry ice pellets in a stream of air at supersonic speed to freeze any leaves on the line. The frozen leaves are then blasted away as the dry ice pellets turn back to gas.
These dry ice pellets are made from waste carbon dioxide from other industries.
“This is a great example of a University testing and proving an idea in a lab-based experiment and then scaling it up to be trialled and implemented in the field to make impact. This can only be done though good teamwork and having champions in the railway industry such as Rob and his team at Northern.”
The trials for this technology are supported by funding from Network Rail’s Performance Innovation Fund.
The researchers now plan to develop a strategy to fit the technology across Northern’s fleet next year.
The UK government has announced a 72 million GBP package to help deliver more reliable trains in Manchester.
Dawlish Sea Wall is set to open to the public at 2pm on 25 May following an 80 million GBP investment to help protect the key railway line.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has appointed DB ESG to deliver the tram safety improvement programme for its Metrolink service.
LA Metro has announced that the Regional Connector light rail transit project will officially open to the public on 16 June.
HS2 workers have completed the first base slab concrete pour at the western end of Old Oak Common station, advancing progress on the key infrastructure project....
Network Rail has announced the next step in its plans to deliver digital signalling across the first section of the East Coast Main Line.
Network Rail has published its 44 billion GBP five-year plan to improve the railway in England and Wales throughout Control Period 7 (CP7).
The London boroughs have collaborated on a list of infrastructure projects that should be prioritised, including the Bakerloo line extension.
LNER, Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail have signed an agreement to define how they will effectively collaborate over the next three decades.
ORR has written to Network Rail to express concerns about its backlog in examining the condition of railway structures.
LNER is introducing simpler and more flexible fares across its network as part of its mission to transform the UK's ticketing system.
Transport Secretary: Transpennine Express won't have its contract renewed. Instead, it will be brought into Operator of Last Resort.
Northern has upgraded its depot in Barrow-in-Furness to enable longer trains to operate between Cumbria and Manchester.
The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) has taken delivery of its first rail carriage, marking the start of a new partnership with Talgo.
Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that the full peak Elizabeth line timetable will be introduced on Sunday 21 May 2023.
With Railtex taking place in Birmingham, we take a look at the history of Birmingham’s Curzon Street within the context of HS2.
Jonn Elledge on the absolute madness that is terminating HS2 at Old Oak Common rather than Euston for the foreseeable future.
Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR) first Class 387/1 Electrostar train has been retrofitted with ETCS in-cab signalling.
Great Western Railway (GWR) and Eversholt Rail have extended their maintenance partnership with Hitachi Rail.
HS2 has received design approval for Small Dean Viaduct, which will take HS2 trains across the A413 and local rail lines.
Hitachi Rail will test the latest rail technologies, including battery systems and digital solutions at the Global Centre of Rail Excellence.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has contracted Stadler to provide full service for up to 30 Class 99 bi-mode Co’Co locomotives.
The first Class 93 tri-mode locomotives for Rail Operations Group has completed testing at Stadler’s facility in Valencia, Spain.
The government has published its UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which includes a focus on improving mobile coverage for rail.
Skanska Costain STRABAG JV has launched HS2's third London tunnel boring machine (TBM), 'Lydia' to construct the Atlas Road Logistics Tunnel.
Midland Metro Alliance has commenced vehicle testing on the Wolverhampton City Centre Metro extension tram line. With testing and commissioning now underway ...
Northern has completed its 'digital train' programme following 183,000 hours of work and the installation of 725 kilometres of electric cable.
A tunnelling milestone for HS2: the tunnel boring machine Dorothy has broken through on the second bore of the Long Itchington Wood tunnel.
TfL has secured grant funding to help make the Therapia Lane London Trams depot in Croydon greener and more energy efficient.
The National Audit Office has released a report evaluating whether the DfT and HS2 Ltd can effectively manage the delivery of HS2 Euston.
Southeastern and Network Rail have announced a 4.4 million GBP project to deliver station improvements across Kent and south east London.
TfL has released its annual budget, revealing that it can now fully cover operational costs and invest in new and improved services.
Coventry Very Light Rail has completed construction on a new test site for its unique track system at Coventry City Council’s Whitley Depot.
The ORR has given authorisation for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to operate its Class 717 fleet with Level 2 ETCS digital signalling.
Rail industry leaders were brought together at Accelerate Rail to discuss the nation’s transition to Great British Railways.
UK: The government has announced that Derby, one of the six shortlisted locations, will be the headquarters for Great British Railways.
DB Cargo UK has collaborated with Group Technical Support and Toton TMD to test the impact of using HVO to power locomotives.
The Department for Transport has extended Avanti West Coast's contract for 6 months following the operator's improved performance.
Greater Manchester has announced a new devolution deal with the UK government to grant it more influence over regional rail services.
Train operator, Avanti West Coast has launched a low-cost Superfare 'standby' ticket for flexible travellers.
Over 40bn GBP will be invested in the UK's transport network over the next two years, with a focus on delivering the first phase of HS2.
The UK government is working with Network Rail and Northern Rail to restore regular train services to the Northumberland Line from 2024.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) reveals significant potential to electrify UK rail freight operations.
Transport for London (TfL) has appointed Morgan Sindall Infrastructure as the main delivery partner to enlarge the DLR's Beckton Depot.
The two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) digging HS2’s longest tunnels has passed Amersham shaft on their 10 mile drive under the Chilterns.
TfWM and the WMRE have announced plans to explore the feasibility for five new railway stations within the West Midlands.
Stadler has successfully delivered the first of 46 new Tyne and Wear Metro trains to Nexus' Gosforth Metro Depot in the North of England.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has visited the new ticket hall at Bank Underground station, which completes its 700 million GBP upgrade.
Network Rail has selected SNC-Lavalin Group to deliver signalling renewal projects across the south of England.
The East Coast Digital Programme has further progressed, thanks to new signalling in the Wood Green – New Barnet area of north London.
GWR is to buy several assets from Vivarail, securing the future of trials of fast-charge battery technology.
Engineers have begun work to alleviate a long-time bottleneck on the Hope Valley Railway line at Bamford as part of upgrade project.
HS2 has proposed changes to the construction design of its Manchester route following work with the UK Environment Agency.
Avanti West Coast has begun testing its new Hitachi fleet on the West Coast Main Line. The trains are due to enter service later this year.
Network Rail is refurbishing the Chepstow Viaduct bridge over the river Wye to ensure the longevity of the Severn Estuary railway line.
New plans have been put forward to improve access to the proposed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail station at Manchester Airport.
The High Speed Rail Group and HS2 Ltd have both hit back at a report created by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust about HS2's environmental impact.
Network Rail has started work to upgrade Derby station’s platform one, with resurfacing work underway to improve the platform’s resilience.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper set out the government's key priorities for the railways in his George Bradshaw address on 7 February.
Network Rail and TfL have announced a new partnership that will see thousands of new homes and commercial properties built across London.
Birmingham City Council has granted planning permission approval for HS2's Washwood Heath Depot, north-east of Birmingham city centre.
The UK and Welsh governments are working on a 2.7m GBP study to explore options for new rail stations and services between England and Wales.
A feasibility project led by Porterbrook and Eminox to to help reduce NOx emissions in enclosed stations has delivered positive results.
Scotland's Transport Minister has opened Inverness Airport rail station, with passenger trains arriving and departing from 3 February.
The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the University of Sheffield are developing an AI tool to predict low adhesion track conditions.
HS2's tunnel boring machines, Florence and Cecilia have passed the halfway point on their 10-mile journey excavating the Chiltern tunnels.
HS2 Ltd’s contractor, Align JV has installed the last of 292 concrete piles, forming the foundations for the UK’s longest railway bridge.
Network Rail has upgraded Banbury train depot to keep trains moving on the Chiltern main line during HS2 construction.
Work has begun on the expansion of the West Midlands Metro depot, which includes extended and updated workshop and maintenance facilities.
Network Rail is upgrading almost three miles of railway tracks to improve the reliability of trains running through Scarborough.
Progress is being made towards Network Rail’s goal to upgrade the UK railway’s ageing telecoms infrastructure.
The first five-metre-tall V-shaped pier for the Curzon No. 3 Viaduct into HS2's Curzon Street Station in Birmingham has been installed.
Varamis Rail has collaborated with Network Rail to launch a 'zero-carbon freight service' between Scotland and the Midlands.
New funding has been announced for Network Rail to deliver transformational rail projects in the South West of England.
Liverpool City Region’s new fleet of publicly-owned trains could enter service as soon as 23 January, the city mayor has announced.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has confirmed the first instalment of its 72 million GBP investment in Coventry Very Light Rail.
A total of 130 metres of double track has been installed along Lower Bull Street as part of the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension project.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has signed a new 10-year locomotive leasing deal with rolling stock leasing company, Akiem.
EMR and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre are developing a simulation tool to improve depot efficiency.
The West Coast mainline near Carstairs has been reopened for passenger services after emergency engineering works was completed.
Network Rail has completed a series of improvement works for the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York.
A bridge that will carry direct rail services between Oxford and Cambridge has been positioned over the HS2 route near Calvert, Bucks.
Northern Rail has upgraded its TrainCare Centre in Hull to increase its maintenance and servicing capacity and improve service reliability.
HS2 has revealed designs for the Curzon 2 bridge: a 150-metre section of viaduct on the approach to Birmingham’s new Curzon Street Station.
Construction is now complete on the Metro Flow project in Tyne and Wear, enabling contractors to being testing and commissioning.
Midlands Connect has unveiled plans to deliver 1.5 billion GBP in infrastructure improvements to enhance east-west rail connections in the UK.
Network Rail has launched an audio guide to help blind and partially sighted people navigate their way around Bristol Temple Meads Station.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has approved the introduction of Grand Union Trains between London, Cardiff and South West Wales from 2024.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has visited the new trains currently undergoing testing for the Glasgow Subway in Scotland.
HS2’s tunnel boring machine (TBM) Dorothy has begun its second one-mile tunnel bore under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has invested 4.7 million GBP in a new maintenance depot in Peterborough alongside the UK's East Coast Mainline.
HS2 's Euston site construction team Mace Dragados Joint Venture is trialling a hydrogen fuel cell to power a fully electric JCB telehandler.
In his November column Jonn Elldge considers what the recent Budget means for the rail sector in terms of investment in projects such as HS2.
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a trial of a new bridging device, a ramp specifically designed for step-free stations.
The first of Avanti West Coast's new fleet of Hitachi bi-mode trains has begun dynamic testing at Network Rail’s RIDC.
Network Rail has announced that major improvement works are set to take place on the Bakerloo and London Overground lines.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is funding a series of projects to advance the future of Britain's rail network.
Porterbrook has announced that the first 25 new JNA-X Box Wagons have arrived in the UK and are now on lease with GB Railfreight (GBRf).
Transport for Wales has installed the first electrical lines on the Core Valley Lines to power the new South Wales Metro.
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