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£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.

The package includes a year’s salary, tailored business training and mentoring, business support funding and access to RSE’s network of business contacts, all of which will be delivered virtually for the foreseeable future. 

This year’s cohort will introduce and develop innovative products, services, and technology in the health, nuclear, manufacturing and transport industries.

Other recipients are:

Ashton Barnett-Vanes of Javelin Health (Edinburgh University) who plans to develop his early stage medical device start up in the intravascular cannula securement market.

Richard Gray of Lomond Nuclear Instruments (Glasgow University), who is developing and manufacturing radiation detector technologies for the UK civil nuclear industry.

Timothy Eyes of the Manchester BioFactory (Manchester University) who has developed technology to accelerate the discovery of enzymes to deliver best-in-class products and processes

Carole Tucker of Cardiff Filter Technology (Cardiff University) who will produce multi-layer metal-mesh optical filters for the next generation of the aerospace sector and other markets such as security scanning and radio frequency communications.

Marine Valton of BIO-F (Imperial College, London) who is aiming to use natural algae to tackle the lack of sustainable and efficient fertiliser options in farming. 

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