TECHNOLOGY used by American space agency NASA to map the surface of the moon is making rail journeys in the district safer.

Northern, which operates services on the Airedale line, is fitting so-called light detection and radar (LIDAR) cameras to all its trains.

The equipment can detect infrastructure defects and flag-up any maintenance issues.

And it will monitor passenger load factors and provide accurate information to service partners in the event of an emergency.

Also, Northern is aligning its on-board CCTV systems with British Transport Police so officers can tune-in to live, high-definition footage from carriages.

Nick Donovan, for Northern, said: "This is the beginning of what we’re calling ‘intelligent trains’. With these modifications, our fleet won’t just travel the network, it will actively monitor and report back on issues that could have an impact on our operation.

"The result will be greater efficiencies in terms of resource allocation, faster responses with maintenance programmes and an overall smarter – and safer – way of working.

"We are sharing details of this new software with other train operators so that passengers the length and breadth of the country can benefit from the approach we have pioneered in the north of England."