"Your train has been delayed because of leaves on the line" says the crackly British Rail announcement. This problem causes havoc for rail commuters, and cost Railtrack £60 million in 1999. But it could be a thing of the past thanks to a sci-fi invention to blast leaves from the track. Former naval officer Malcolm Higgins has devised a laser gun to scour railway lines of leaf slime, and a prototype of his invention will be tested in the autumn. Inspiration hit Malcolm, who doesn't travel by rain and isn't a scientist or engineer, when listening to a radio news commentary about leaves on the line.