LEAVES on the line could soon become a thing of the past on the railways.

Northern, which operates trains on the Airedale route, is fitting new technology to a number of its units to combat the problem.

Leaves can cause serious disruption on the network in the autumn. They stick to damp rails and become compressed into a smooth layer which reduces trainsā€™ grip.

Currently, special units known as railhead treatment trains are used to clear leaves. But only a limited number exist and they are expensive to run.

Now technology called Water-Trak is being installed, initially to 16 of Northern's passenger trains on routes known to be worst affected by autumn conditions.

When a slippery line is detected, the device sprays a small amount of water onto the track.

Because leaf-coated rails are only slippery if damp and not when wet as in heavy rain, the problem is countered.

Rob Cummings, for Northern, says: "This is the next step in finding a solution to tricky autumn conditions.

"One of the biggest risks to our performance during October and November is leaves on the line, but by helping to develop new technology we aim to deliver the very best service."