£600,000 handed to spin-outs

‘Leaves on the line’ solution among RSE fellowships

Millions are spent clearing rail lines

Rail commuters may be spared the age-old problems of delays caused by ‘leaves on the line’ thanks to technology developed at Edinburgh University.

Falling leaves are the ‘black ice’ of rail causing more than 200 adhesion incidents a year by reducing grip and increasing wheel slip. They can lead to derailments as the driver loses control over the wheels.

Operators currently use “leaf buster teams”, but reduced speeds are enforced on 10% of journeys, resulting in lower passenger throughput and reduced revenues.

Despite spending £65 million on solutions across the UK, operators lose £345m annually with Network Rail handed fines of £300m.

Edinburgh University’s Hamish Geddes is developing traction technology to help combat the problem.


His newly-established company Lenz, has created Traction Hub, a retrofitted solution that magnetically counters slip, stabilising the driver’s control over the wheels.

The product improves operational safety by offering predictable braking control and improved acceleration performance, no matter the weather.

Mr Geddes is one of six academic entrepreneurs who each receive £100,000 from this year’s cohort of Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowships to help commercialise their work.

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