IT solutions become crucial for development of railway infrastructure
The railway industry becomes more and more interrelated with IT solutions. Several European countries have already implemented some, while others are just thinking about it. What are the advantages of IT solutions for infrastructure asset management? That was one of the questions on the second day of the Intelligent Rail Summit, which took place in Malmö, Sweden, on November 28-29.
The main reason that the railway industry has developed and adopted IT solutions is cost reduction. “We want to offer products and solutions to our customers to bring down their costs. We are not interested in maximising our costs based on the costs of a customer, we are interested in bringing down the costs in the system to satisfy a final customer”, chief technology officer at voestalpine Jochen Holzfeind noted at the summit. According to him, this principle should apply to all companies working in different segments of the railway industry, especially in infrastructure asset management.
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) created swissTAMP (Track Analysis and Maintenance Planning) – a platform that allows collecting data on track conditions from all over the country, analysing them, planning maintenance works and making some predictions. This solution was presented by senior track asset manager at SBB Anna Oprandi.
“If we look at the past, the railway engineer was pretty much disconnected between the measurements on paper and the track monitoring system. We had people working on the tracks every two to four weeks and they recognised every deviation. It was really inefficiently”, she noted. Another problem, according to her, was the impossibility of effective planning of track maintenance works. swissTAMP solved these problems. The platform helps to collect data of track monitoring and links it to actual tracks.
The ePilot project
Anther IT solution presented on the summit was ePilot. Is was developed in 2013-2016 by the Swedisch Luleå Railway Research Centre at Luleå University of Technology together with Swedish rail infrastructure manager Trafikverket and Swedish Transport Agency. According to Veronica Jägare, manager of Luleå Railway Research Centre, the main idea of ePilot is to collect data in a cloud to develop a railway maintenance process. However, the project is capable of fulfilling several tasks: providing decision support for maintenance stakeholders, sharing data between them, demonstrating solutions and testing and implementing innovations in the railway industry.