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Digital sensors to spot track faults and improve safety

Posted on 19 Mar 2022 and read 1133 times
Digital sensors to spot track faults and improve safetyNetwork Rail has agreed a contract with Perpetuum — a subsidiary of Hitachi Rail — to expand its ‘ride-quality trial’ to Scotland. This development follows successful trials of Perpetuum’s ride-quality monitoring technology with Network Rail on the West Coast main line in 2019.

The regular use of Scotland’s railway means that over time parts of the 1,750-mile track degrade, resulting in bumpy journeys for passengers, speed limits, and weeks of potentially disruptive maintenance.

At present, locations of ‘rough ride’ are reported by drivers, followed by manual inspection by maintenance crews walking on the track. Perpetuum’s solution automates this monitoring and reporting, which improves the safety of the railway.

Working in partnership with Network Rail, ScotRail and Porterbrook, Perpetuum is using its self-powered monitoring technology to measure data in real-time between the train and the track. This is achieved by installing sensors with gyroscopes and accelerometers, either in the carriages or on the wheels, of trains already in passenger service.

At this stage of the development, Perpetuum’s solution can identify the onset of warping or changes to the track, and by applying digital analytical tools the company can build a picture of areas that are at risk, requiring inspection or maintenance in the future. For Network Rail, the ability to identify ‘fix tracks’ early will improve reliability and minimise disruption.

Jim Brewin, Hitachi Rail’s head of UK and Ireland, said: “Introducing in-service monitoring technology to improve ride quality demonstrates how Hitachi Rail can use digital solutions that support track maintenance. This ability to bring train and track together can solve issues for both passengers and train operators.”