Engineers in the Netherlands are experimenting with a highly innovative approach to dealing with the problem of track-strewn leaf debris, with a method that sounds akin to something straight from the pages of a work of speculative science fiction.

Keeping tracks free of fallen debris is one of the most besetting problems that railway operators face on a regular basis. This is particularly the case for the leaves that tumble onto fall lines in tree-lined areas, as the fallen foliage can create highly hazardous track conditions. When trains running on railway lines squeeze and compress the…