NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Ozzy Osbourne has a “Crazy Train,” but now Connecticut has a leaf-zapping “laser train” on its rails.
Following a successful pilot program last year, the train is set to clear all of the Metro-North Railroad’s track at least once a day.
“The laser train is back, and it will be easier for our customers to spot this year,” Metro-North Railroad President and LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi said in a written announcement. “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 train used to look like a regular maintenance train. Now, you can spot it by looking for the retro, 1970’s design, which was inspired by an old NASA logo. It also includes illustrations of leaves that can be found locally.
While the changing season is ideal for leaf peepers, it can be dangerous for trains. Leaves contain pectin, a chemical that create a hazard. Crushed, wet leaves become sludge on rails, which make wheels slip and form flat spots. Those “untrue” wheels have to be made round again in order to be considered safe.
The Metro-North Railroad explains the process, and shares more about how the lasers work, in a YouTube video.
The railroad is already touting the laser train as a success. Last year, the lasers cleaned 12,000 miles of track, which led to a 40% decrease in slip/slide events. 2022 also reached a record low for how much was spent on making wheels true again.
The laser train is seeing acclaim, as well. The Metro-North Railroad won a Rail Safety Gold Award this year from the American Public Transportation Association for making a laser train that can reach 60 mph.