Monitoring system, Ricardo Rail, train

Permanent monitoring system on passenger train prevents track failure

Unexpected failures in track infrastructure result in big disadvantages for the traveler. A permanent monitoring system on board a double-decker train should ensure that Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail can replace track parts before they break. ‘’The measuring system highlights if degradation is occurring before a part of the track is actually broken. This enables us to conduct preventative, rather than corrective, maintenance’’, says Edward de Jong from Ricardo Rail.

In order to carry out preventative maintenance more effectively, ProRail has been working with a monitoring system on board an NS double-decker train that collects data on a daily basis since 2013. This system constantly monitors the current state of the track infrastructure on intercity routes. The monitoring system ‘InfraMonitoring’ was built by Ricardo Rail, who collect and analyze the data for ProRail and present the most important results to the track administrator via a dashboard. ‘’The monitoring system shows, for example, if a certain part of the track is degrading, without that part needing to actually be broken. This enables us to conduct preventative rather than corrective maintenance more frequently.

Monitoring system


The monitoring system is located in the NS Intercity’s technical space. There are sensors on the train’s wheels and coach which send data to the monitoring system. A GPS receiver provides the exact location of the measurements. “The main strength of the permanent monitoring system on the passenger train compared to that of the monitoring trains currently in use is that useful data is continuously being gathered which better highlights of trends and failures. Regular monitoring trains only run a few times a year on Dutch tracks.

In 2013, ProRail and Ricardo Rail began a trial with the InfraMonitoring which was successfully completed after a year. Meanwhile, the monitoring train has already covered 1.2 million kilometers. ProRail and Ricardo Rail are now looking for ways to add more functionality to the system. “We initially only used the system to monitor track positioning and degradation. Now we also monitor the overhead wire and the switch heating.”

Preventive maintenance

“We have invested heavily in Ricardo Rail in recent years to expand our system and to process and share the enormous data stream that has come from it. Hence we have expanded our technical systems.”

However, a few steps still need to be taken in order to conduct good preventive maintenance, says De Jong. “By rewarding railway contractors for carrying out preventive maintenance, we are motivating them to use the monitoring information. Looking at the technology, everyone is convinced of the usefulness and necessity. However, it still needs to be secured throughout the chain. “

ProRail is currently working on making an inventory of all of the track data and making it accessible to all parties concerned using the SpoorData program. The track administrator wants to thereby ensure that all track businesses ultimately base their business activities on the same information.”


“In the future, ProRail also wants to present all the data which comes from InfraMonitoring in one form within its system to contractors. This is currently still hosted by us. Ultimately, we intend this to be integrated into the ProRail system.”

Marieke van Gompel

Edward de Jong is one of the speakers at the Rail Technology Conferences in Paris on 17th, 18th and 19th November. This event will take place in the UIC headquarters and will give rail professionals inside information about the themes of Wheel/Rail Interface, Noise and Vibrations and Railways and Environment.

Please click here to register for this interesting event:

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor-in-chief of, and, online magazines for railway professionals.

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