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Dutch trains are testing lasers to blast rail debris

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Dutch Railways is testing to see if lasers are the solution for high-speed rail cleaning. The proposed system functions in two ways. Mounted just in front of the wheels, the lasers will not only remove organic material like pulped leaves, but also dry the rails in the process, temporarily preventing new accretions. This can help provide better traction, which will in turn allow for greater handling. The system is also capable of shutting off briefly if vibrations cause the lasers to miss the track.

Developed by the Delft University of Technology (TU) in partnership with Strukton Rail, the cleaning device can be used at speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour (about 50 miles per hour.) TU professor Rolf Dollevoet noted that the question was never so much if the system could work, but how long its effects will last. Currently, there is no word as to whether Dutch Railways will adopt the technology.