Network Rail trialling technology that will cut disruption and improve safety across Scotland

Network Rail is trialling technology that will allow digital sensors to spot track faults, cut rail disruption and improve safety on Scotland’s network.

Hitachi Rail and its subsidiary Perpetuum have been awarded a contract by Network Rail to develop the first real-time digital solution that monitors, and eventually predicts, sections of track that affect ride quality and require maintenance.

The monitoring equipment is installed on trains across Scotland’s networks, including the North Clyde Line, the Borders and Fife Circle.

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It is hoped such technology will help reduce disruption on the network, improve safety and reduce maintenance costs.

New digital tech is being trialled in Scotland, the first real-time digital solution that monitors, and eventually predicts, sections of track that require maintenance – to improve safety and reduce disruption.

At this stage of the development, Perpetuum solution can identify the onset of warping or changes to the track, which allows the network to build a picture of areas that are at risk, requiring inspection or maintenance in the future.

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

“Hitachi Rail is committed to constantly pioneering and championing new technology to make our railways safer and more reliable.”

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Stephanie Klecha, head of digital services at Porterbrook, said: “Porterbrook is delighted to support Perpetuum’s data-led approach alongside train operators and Network Rail, which can deliver a better passenger service across these fleets.

"This project is a great example of how rolling stock data can improve and enhance the industry’s understanding of track behaviour in the run up to rough ride events. This will enable tailored proactive maintenance to solve this important industry challenge.”

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David Lister, safety, engineering and sustainability director at ScotRail, said: “The performance and reliability of our trains is always a top priority, which requires both reliable trains and reliable track infrastructure, so it’s great to see Hitachi Rail and Perpetuum developing this innovative digital technology to monitor and then predict which sections of track need maintenance using technology fitted to our passenger trains.

“Anything that can increase comfort for our customers by making their journeys smoother, while reducing the need for unplanned downtime for stretches of track, is to be welcomed.”