Today’s modelling challenge comes, of all places, from the Metro free newspaper:
Zap leaves on the line with lasers Train companies are testing lasers as a way of clearing leaves from the paths of high-speed trains. Trials to zap slippery foliage were started last month on railways in Holland. The lasers, fitted just in front of the wheel and angled downwards, vaporise residue as the train passes. They also dry the rails to prevent new leaves from piling up, giving the trains better traction and allowing faster acceleration and braking. Using lasers to clear leaves was first proposed by a British company called LaserThor in 1999. It developed a laser with a temperature of 5,000C that was strong enough to zap leaves 25,000 times per second. “This worked really well in the lab,” said Network Rail, which racked up 4.5 million hours of passenger delays because of leaves last year. However, the operator opted for high-powered water jet because vibrations from moving trains made it hard to keep the laser focussed on the rails. The Dutch team has been working on the focusing problem.
Also in the Daily Mail with a video of the Dutch unit in operation. Perhaps these units would also be brought into use to control football supporters? I’ve seen LED flashing lights to simulate the arcing of the collectors against the third rail, but this would be a different challenge. It would probably also need a smoke generator….
And a good link to the BBC about progress on CrossRail under London.
And remember – no ESNG meeting on 1st January 2015!