Carbon dioxide to help cut train delays caused by leaves on tracks

Posted: October 4, 2021 by oldbrew in humour, innovation, Travel

Image credit: Rail Technology Magazine

The BBC headline says ‘dry ice’ [etc.], which is the solid form of carbon dioxide. When deployed ‘The dry ice then quickly turns back into gas’. Surely that won’t do for climate obsessives?
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The new method of removing leaves from tracks will be trialled across northern England in the coming weeks, reports BBC News.

The technique, developed by University of Sheffield engineers, involves blasting tracks with dry ice from a passenger train.

It will be trialled by operator Northern in the coming weeks.

Leaves cause a slippery layer on railway lines, leading to delays as trains must run at slower speeds.

Under the new method, pellets of dry ice are fired in a stream of air, making leaves frozen and brittle.

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

At the moment, leaves are cleared by 61 special trains, which use high-pressure water jets followed by a gel containing sand and steel grains to help with braking.

The engineers behind the new system say their method is significantly more efficient as it can be used by passenger trains, which can cover greater distances than the limited fleet of cleaning trains.

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

The method has previously been trialled on test tracks and could be rolled out more widely by 2023.
. . .
Autumn-related problems cost the [UK] rail industry approximately £345m a year.

Full report here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Of course the same carbon dioxide helped the leaves to grow in the first place…

  2. SasjaL says:

    We do have the same problem[s] in Sweden …

  3. Gamecock says:

    Cut down the trees near the tracks.

  4. JB says:

    “in a stream of air”

    Just like my leaf blower….

    “destroy the leaves”

    And then there’s my Worx leaf mulcher…

    And I can keep the dry ice for making a quick refreshing drink.

  5. pameladragon says:

    Seems a reasonable solution to an annual problem of brief duration.

  6. oldmanK says:

    JB says: October 4, 2021 at 1:36 pm

    “Just like my leaf blower….” Yes, draw in air from the front of the train, use it as an engine coolant, and eject it backwards towards the rails, ram-jet style. Just a thought.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Forget leaf blowers…

    Windy conditions can cause heavy leaf-fall in a short space of time and rain means they are more likely to stick to the rails.

    When trains pass over leaves, the heat and weight of the trains bake them into a thin, slippery layer on the rail. This is the black ice of the railway.