Tractor train traverse system


Lat. 90°0'0"S, Long. 0°0'0"E

An innovative system for transporting science teams and their equipment across vast areas of Antarctica’s ice is the Tractor Train Traverse.  A combination of vehicles, sledges and living accommodation allows science and support teams to live and work in remote areas a long way from the research stations at Rothera or Halley.

tractor train traverse crosses the ice
Tractor train traverse crosses the ice


  • The PistenBully 300 Polar is built to cope with the extreme conditions of the eternal ice.
  • Low ground pressure it reduces risk during unloading on the sea ice. Combine this with complete reliability and a truly versatile set-up
  • In its role as a traverse towing vehicle, a transportation vehicle and a snow mover, the PistenBully 300 Polar is a pioneering vehicle, going where other vehicles cannot. It’s a versatile machine, before you upgrade it with the extra facilities.
  • Its flexible platform designed to take a variety of superstructures, from cranes for loading, to passenger cabins for working, living or sleeping quarters. This means you can use this one vehicle for a whole range of applications when you’d normally need separate vehicles.


  • Leahman Sledge units for compatibility
  • HMW black plastic sledges, double layer
  • Light drawbar system for towing
  • Four 1500 US gallon bladders, limit spill potential and give flexibility in use.
Lehman sledge at SkiBlu
Lehman sledge at SkiBlu

Living Caboose

  • Living accommodation
  • Transported on Lehman Sledge
  • Hub for science work and living facilities during Traverse

The tractor train traverse system supports deep-field science missions to improve understanding of what’s happening to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where the greatest rates of ice loss over the last decades have been observed. New knowledge about the stability of this ice sheet is critical for making better predictions about how the ocean and ice will respond to environmental change, and what impact this may have on future sea level.  iSTAR is an ambitious scientific programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). It brings together leading scientists from 11 UK universities and from British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Benjamin Norrish

Head of Vehicles Section

Vehicles team

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