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Project description

Vaporising leaves from train tracks

One of the most common hazards for trains is leaves. Leaves cause the tracks to become slippery. Trains can slide along the rails when trying to brake effectively. According to the United Kingdom's NetworkRail, which owns and operates the railway infrastructure in England, Wales and Scotland, there are 10 million trees on and next to the railway network in Britain and, every autumn, thousands of tonnes of leaves fall onto the tracks. The EU-funded LT project has a solution. It is developing the Laser Train. It will use high-powered laser pulses to vaporise the slippery contamination. The Laser Train, a separate wagon that can be pulled by locomotives, will not heat up or damage the track.


Anyone who travels by train is familiar with delays. Track contamination such as rust, oil and most notoriously autumn leaves cause the tracks to become slippery. Research shows that this leads to 75% lower traction and as a result to severe safety issues from the reduced braking ability. Low traction also leads to slipping and sliding wheels creating ‘flat spots’ and damages wheel and track. Launching customer MTA Long Island Rail Road estimates the cost of wheel repairs at €3.000 each and that for a total of 3.307 wheels in 2017. As for safety issues, in 2017 in the UK 295 trains failed to stop at stations or red lights. The UK infrastructure manager Network Rail shows that slippery tracks cost them an annual €320 million, showing that there is need for a working solution.

Laser Tribology B.V. (LPS) has developed the solution: the LaserTrain. Using high-powered laser pulses the slippery contamination layer is vaporized from the track, without heating up or damaging the track. The LaserTrain is a separate wagon that can be pulled by locomotives in any operator’s network. A few dedicated cleaning LaserTrains clean the network between September and March when the contamination layers hinder operations. After three years of R&D, a full in-house simulation and a prototype on live track the system is now ready for a debut in Europe. The system is fully standalone, requires only energy and cleans at 80 km/h, so it blows away the competition in every aspect.

In Europe there is a long list of prospects following our development closely, such as Network Rail (UK), Banedanmark (DK), Dutch Railways (NL), Deutsche Bahn (DE) and PKP (PL). To meet their demand, engineering on an 80 km/h LaserTrain has finished. Now it’s time to protect the most vital parts of the IP and make it a huge commercial success in Europe. This feasibility study helps do just that. Firstly we look at how bank funding allows us to pre-finance multiple orders. Secondly we improve our knowledge protect

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Net EU contribution
€ 50 000,00

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 71 429,00