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Track Survey at 160km/h

Railways transport millions of passengers and goods every day throughout the world.  A demanding environment that requires a lifecycle approach to asset management and maintenance to ensure the highest standards of safety and performance. Fugro is responding to this global need with its unique RILA solution.

RILA Manchester Airport Coupling
Reaching this point has been a significant journey but presents a sound endorsement of Fugro’s new innovative technologies that will revolutionise the way railway data and asset information is collected
Nick van den Hurk, Director of Fugro RailData
RILA video module
RILA video module

RILA Track system

Fugro’s innovative suite of train-borne RILA sensors delivers 3D information of the entire railway corridor, enabling rail professionals to drive efficiencies in both rail engineering and track maintenance activities. Fugro’s RILA Track system measures absolute track position and geometry to engineering specification accuracy, simultaneously incorporating georeferenced video to record track assets.  Compact and transportable, it connects to the rear of a regular passenger train in less than two minutes and surveys the rail tracks at line speed of over 160 km/h.

Proof of concept

First introduced to the UK market in 2013, Fugro’s RILA Track survey system has since been used to survey over 8,000 kilometres of track. It all started with Fugro undertaking a ‘Proof of Concept’ project for Network Rail to prove RILA’s potential to improve safety for survey tasks by reducing ‘open’ track working and lowering track survey delivery times. Traditionally track measurements are undertaken by surveyors who are working on and near the track and whilst doing so are being exposed to the dangers of live railways, with RILA there is no need for surveyors to be on or near a track. Network Rail estimates that more than 100,000 surveying man-hours are exposed to these risks each year. The aim of the project was to understand the new RILA technology and test its capabilities, proving the robustness and safety of the operational procedures whilst ensuring the quality of the data.

Several test sites, selected by Network Rail between Wigan Wallgate and Southport, were surveyed for absolute track position, to input into the accuracy validation process, and generation of as-built data for track renewal projects.  Some operational issues had to be overcome during the tests, but in the end the acquired datasets were entirely consistent between all the runs.

These positive results led to the second phase of testing which involved mounting RILA on the rear of a passenger train and surveying the tracks at line speed of over 160 km/h. Systems can only be attached to the train at terminus stations limiting the turnaround time at some stations to 8 minutes, but with the RILA system this operation can be completed in less than three minutes. 

Survey standard

Whilst Network Rail was impressed with the repeatability of the data more proof was needed on the absolute accuracy of the results. Further tests and data comparisons undertaken between Carlisle and Settle Junction proved further confidence in the RILA data, approving it for use on all Band 2 survey accuracy activities.

With the concept tested and accepted RILA was considered a recognised technology within Network Rail. However, it still had to be accepted as standard survey practice before it could be used for all engineering and design survey tasks. With support from top management, Network Rail put together an implementation team to drive this approval process forward.

 In October 2015, approval was granted by Network Rail’s Central System Review Panel (SRP) for RILA Track and RILA 360 operations. The long, intensive approval process is designed to ensure that the systems can be used safely as standard practice on Britain’s railways and to Network Rail’s survey specifications.

“Reaching this point has been a significant journey but presents a sound endorsement of Fugro’s new innovative technologies that will revolutionise the way railway data and asset information is collected,” concluded Nick van den Hurk, Director of Fugro RailData.

Find out more about our Rail services.

Did you know?

On the High Output Track Renewals project for Network Rail, Fugro surveyed over 1000 km in just one day.

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