NEW YORK CITY – Metro-North Railroad announces a rebranded ‘laser train’ design for fighting “leaf slime” that can damage train wheels.
Metro-North Railroad announces a rebranded ‘laser train’ design for fighting “leaf slime” that can damage train wheels. The newly-wrapped Laser Train clears rails from “dangerous wet, slimy sludge caused by crushed fallen leaves by zapping it with lasers.” This will enable the train to be more visible to the public. Before, it looked like any other maintenance train.
Metro-North Railroad President and LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi stated: “The laser train is back, and it will be easier for our customers to spot this year. . . The new wrap around the Metro—North laser train shows the talent and creativity of the Metro-North workforce, and our customers can keep an eye out as the laser train travels around throughout the region this fall.”
The design comes from NASA’s “worm” logo from the 1970s and was “a collaborative effort between Metro-North’s operations, safety and asset management teams.” Below is a short video from MTA that shows the laser train:
As leaves fall in the autumn, a chemical in the leaves known as pectin causes the slimy sludge. Trains can slip along the rails during braking, and subsequently, it “causes the wheels to develop a flat spot incompatible with safe operations.” Train wheels must be perfectly circular in order for the train to operate safely. Any flat spots that are caused by sliding along this leaf sludge cause the train cars to be taken out of service for maintenance and repair.
MTA also reports earlier this year, “Metro-North received the Rail Safety Gold Award. . . from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for developing a Laser Train capable of operating 60 mph, which allows Metro-North to clean the territory at least once a day.”
The Long Island Rail Road has been utilizing these laser trains since 2017 before “exporting the concept to Metro-North.” This year, Metro-North expanded the laser train fleet after its success last year. MTA reports that during the pilot test last Fall 2022, “Metro-North safely cleaned over 12,000 miles of track with the laser train, which resulted in a 40% reduction in slip/slide events and the lowest wheel-true cost season on record.”