Metro-North has unveiled a new retro-inspired train that's got a few wild tricks up its sleeve.

Hudson Valley train enthusiasts are keeping their eyes open for the Laser Train even though it probably won't be too hard to spot. Metro-North announced that the state-of-the-art train has hit the rails and will be making trips up and down the Hudson River daily.

What is the Laser Train?

The train is decked out in a funky 1980s design that looks like it could be something out of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical fiasco, Starlight Express.

Emily Moser / MTA Metro-North Ra
Emily Moser / MTA Metro-North Ra

But don't be fooled by the Laser Train's appearance. This is a rolling piece of super technology that uses high-powered lasers to make rail travel safer for Hudson Valley commuters.

The train is equipped with special lasers that zap away the layers of wet sludge that appear in the fall. Fallen leaves on the track become crushed and compacted under train wheels, leaving a slippery coating on the rails. As trains brake they can slip on the sludge which causes damage that can lead to unsafe conditions.

In the past, slow-running cars have been used to blast away the leaf residue with high-pressure water and scrubbers, but the process was slow and sometimes ineffective. Thanks to some high-tech thinking, the laser train was developed.

The train can travel at much faster speeds while directing specially designed lasers at the track, keeping them free from debris and making the rails much safer. The video above explains exactly how it works.

New Design for the Laser Train

Metro-North debuted the Laser Train in 2022 after a successful test run on the Long Island Railroad. In its pilot year, Metro-North says it was able to clean over 12,000 miles of track resulting in a 40% reduction of slip/slide events.

Emily Moser / MTA Metro-North Ra
Emily Moser / MTA Metro-North Ra

Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North Railroad President, says the Laser Train will be much easier to spot this year thanks to its new look. Its design is inspired by the 1970s NASA logo and was developed through a collaboration between several Metro-North teams.

The new wrap around the Metro-North laser train shows the talent and creativity of the Metro-North workforce, and our customers can keep an eye out as the laser train travels around throughout the region this fall.

Because the Laser Train can operate at 60 mph, Metro-North says it can clean the entire system at least once a day. So, the next time you see a train go by keep your eyes open for the Laser Train. It'll be hard at work keeping the rails safe.

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