AUTUMN disruption caused by leaves on the line could soon be a thing of the past for Keighley-district rail passengers.

Northern, which operates services on the Airedale line, is trialling new technology.

Equipment fitted to passenger trains will automatically freeze and blast away leaves.

Currently, lines are cleaned using special treatment trains, but only a limited number are available and they're expensive to run.

The new device, developed in conjunction with the University of Sheffield, is undergoing trials using two 'retired' Pacer trains at Wensleydale Railway.

The technology is set to be introduced throughout Northern's fleet next year.

Rob Cummings, for the company, says: "Fallen leaves can cause significant disruption to the network. They stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a smooth, slippery layer, reducing grip. This can cause delays to services, and is one of the biggest risks to our performance during October and November.

"The new technology is a game-changer for our industry."

Professor Roger Lewis, who has led the university team developing the technology, said: "This is a great example of a university testing and proving an idea in a lab-based experiment and then scaling it up to be implemented in the field."