As soon as the leaves start to fall, the problems begin. Rail passengers know all about this. The fallen leaves get pressed into a hard Teflon-like layer between the wheels and the rails, with the result that the stopping distance for a train can double to 800 metres. ‘Everything has been tried,’ said TU railway professor, Prof. Rolf Dollevoet. ‘Brushing, grinding, water jets and now lasers.’ After a number of trials using laser trains in the UK,
a trial will start this autumn in the Netherlands too. The NS, ProRail and Strukton will carry out the tests.
Dollevoet, together with his Twente colleague Professor Dirk Schipper, has developed a friction meter that measures how long the track stays clean
after the laser has passed.