GBRf announces new partnership to transform rail weed control maintenance

Posted: 4 February 2021 | | No comments yet

Three new Smart Weed System trains will commence service on the British railway network from May 2021, improving the environmental footprint and health and safety.


Credit: GB Railfreight

GB Railfreight (GBRf) has announced a landmark cooperation with Bayer Environmental Science, Network Rail and a number of start-up companies for essential weed control maintenance on the UK’s railways.

Three new Smart Weed System trains will commence service on the British railway network in the spring of 2021. They will have the capability to eliminate potentially dangerous weed infestations with advanced precision. Responsible for supplying the end-to-end rail operations, GB Railfreight will also provide rail expertise for this project.

By detecting the weeds using cameras mounted on the trains, only the most appropriate herbicide will be used, thus improving the environmental footprint. The data generated will be uploaded to a cloud database using GPS software, which will enable weed control to be monitored and reported 24/7 from a central point.

This innovative GPS tracking system will also automatically shut off spray nozzles when the train approaches a ‘Non-Treatment Zone’, such as a watercourse or bridge; a move which further enhances the environmental impact by adding a second layer of protection for the operators.

“The higher efficiency of the three new trains, combined with the modern technology and asset life, will provide a more efficient weed control programme for years to come,” commented Mark Wyborn, Head of Strategic Development at GB Railfreight. “Aiming for a safer rail industry for all should be a priority. This investment from Bayer into the collaboration will bring a new level of scientific expertise and knowledge to the rail industry and will help to drive forward weed control and safety for future years. The first train will be introduced and in service on UK railways from May 2021, with the second and third train planned for use in April 2022.”

Commenting on how the partnership will increase the safety of the railways, Alan Morris, Bayer Environmental Science UK Country Head, said: “Weeds can cause contamination of valuable equipment and lead to a range of health and safety issues for both workers and passengers. This technology is not only an innovation for the rail industry, but weed control globally, so we’re delighted to be involved in this collaboration with key members of the rail industry.”

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