All aboard the laser train!
The Metro-North commuter railroad will adopt “laser train” technology this fall to clear seasonal debris building up on its tracks, such as “wet leaves” and “slimy pectin residue.”
The zapping work train, first used on the Long Island Rail Road in 2018, utilizes “high-intensity lasers” to clear autumnal detritus from the rails, preventing foliage season’s scourge of “slip-slide” and flat wheels and leaving behind a clean, shiny rail for commuters.
Metro-North’s laser train is currently sitting in customs but will be deployed soon, Rinaldi said. The railroad will pilot using their pew-pew-choo-choo at higher speeds than are used on the LIRR.
The LIRR said in 2020 that the use of laser trains had reduced autumnal delays due to wheel adhesion by 79% compared to two years earlier, led to fewer cars being taken out of service due to flat wheels, and led to savings in labor costs related to fixing wheels.
“As the seasons change and leaves fall onto the tracks, we’re glad to hear that both railroads are sharing best practices to minimize the impacts of Mother Nature on riders,” said Kara Gurl, research associate for the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “The new laser trains on Metro-North…are a great example of what’s possible when the railroads use shared technology and ideas to solve common issues.”
Correction: this story has been updated with the accurate spelling of Metro-North president Catherine Rinaldi’s name. We regret the error.