Innovative track surveying in South West England

Fugro's RILA system on GWR train, source: Fugro

Railway tracks in South West England will be surveyed with the RILA system. This innovative solution was developed by Dutch technology company Fugro. It allows Network Rail to obtain a holistic and accurate view of the Western network.

After examining the Welsh railways in 2019, Fugro has succeeded to obtain a new contract in the United Kingdom. This time it will monitor several routes in South West England including the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington to Bristol, the Bristol–Exeter railway, the South Wales Main Line from Bristol towards South Wales, the South Devon Main Line from Exeter to Plymouth and the Cornish Main Line from Plymouth to Penzance. The works have already started at the end of May. In total, Fugro will survey around 1,000 route miles (more than 1,609 kilometres).

COVID-19 impact

The contract between Fugro and Network Rail provides the capture of track and lineside structures along the mentioned routes. With the help of the RILA system, the UK’s rail infrastructure manager will receive an asset and track position information. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Dutch company is forced to meet the safety requirements and keep social distancing between its staff and personnel of the partners.

There is another change caused by the coronavirus. Usually, Fugro installs its RILA system only on the passenger trains. As the passenger connections are running at a reduced timetable, the Dutch contractor will also equip a dedicated locomotive. Therefore, the survey of the Western network will be performed together with the Great Western Railway (GWR) and Freightliner.

Without delays

Nevertheless, the track surveying will not impact on the train traffic. The RILA system captures rail infrastructure when a train or locomotive runs. “We are delighted to be working with Fugro, whose innovative approach has revolutionised the way we receive information and data on railway infrastructure. RILA will help reduce the amount of time we need to work on the track, reducing delays for passengers and freight, while also improving the safety of the railway, as engineers spend less time on track carrying out survey works,” Chris Stanley, Route Asset Data and Analysis Manager at Network Rail, noted.

The processed data will form a geodetic backbone that can be used for a range of route maintenance applications, including topographical survey extraction, determination of heights and staggers on sections of electrified routes, vegetation analysis, ballast profiling and ballast volume validation.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines and

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