May 26, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Infrabel tests 'hot water train' to reduce herbicide use on tracks |  the interior

Infrabel tests ‘hot water train’ to reduce herbicide use on tracks | the interior

Infrabel is currently testing a “hot water train” in the east of the country that should help reduce herbicide use against weeds on tracks. After all, hot water slows down the growth of weeds. The prototype of the new train was presented today to Federal Mobility Minister George Gilkenet (Ecolo) and Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA).

Weeds that grow between spores pose a safety issue. It grows between and between the pebbles that lie under the rail. Due to weeds, the gravel substrate – the so-called heaviness – loses part of its shock-absorbing properties, loses stability and rainwater can no longer drain properly.

In Belgium, and in other countries, herbicides – particularly the controversial glyphosate – are still needed to remove spores. Infrabel gets exceptions to the pesticide ban from regional government services. However, the railroad manager says he wants to be able to dispense with the herbicide as quickly as possible.

So Infrabel has developed a “hot water train”, which aims to treat weeds on more than 8000 kilometers of railways in a more environmentally friendly manner. The train is 180 m long and consists of two locomotives with five cars. Three of them are well insulated tanks containing 3 times the 50,000 liters of water heated to 90°C.


Inspiration came from Switzerland, which was the first country to test a train designed to handle vegetation with hot water. The director of the railway Infrabel was inspired by this prototype and developed his own technology in our country.

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The new train is now undergoing a new series of tests. There were previous trials in the fall of 2021. According to Infrabel, the first tests are encouraging and will therefore be extended until early 2023 on a part of the railway hub from Antwerp to the German border.