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Delivery of essential rail asset information for the great western route

The Great Western route modernisation is an extensive programme undertaken by the UK’s Network Rail (NR) to electrify one of Britain's oldest and busiest railways, providing greener, more reliable journeys. To meet the tight timeline for survey data, whilst minimising risk to schedule and personal safety, NR negotiated a contract with Fugro to survey over 2,000 miles of rail track using its RILA® Track and RILA® 360 systems. 

The cost of modernising the Great Western railway is estimated to be £5.58 billion. With an investment of this scale, robust and timely rail asset data is essential for effective decision making. However, pressure for the survey to be completed in 12 months meant that traditional survey techniques were inadequate. Moreover, from a safety viewpoint, Network Rail wanted to minimise work carried out on or near the track and eliminate any disruption or loss of track availability to passenger and freight traffic. 

Fugro’s train-mounted RILA® survey systems (RILA® Track and RILA® 360) provided a solution that directly addressed the time and safety issues. It measured the track and rail corridors in a fast and efficient manner, while avoiding the need for personnel to be on or near tracks. It also performed this analysis without interruption to scheduled services. 

RILA Track system

The RILA® Track system measures absolute track position and geometry to engineering specification accuracy, simultaneously incorporating georeferenced video to record railway assets. 

While the RILA® Track system focusses on the track, the RILA® 360 system captures ultra-high density lidar point cloud data of the entire route, using twin 360° laser scanners and a panoramic imaging system. 

Our two RILA® systems work independently but they can also complement each other to produce an ultra-high density georeferenced point cloud. The result is an accurate, absolute XYZ model of all the objects in and around the track and even higher relative accuracy of the objects, in respect of the track.  

From Data to Information - Deliverables

The entire survey was completed progressively on a phased approach throughout 2016. Demonstrating impressive acquisition speed, the entire section from London Paddington to Bristol was completed in only 6 shifts, which, as well as being much faster than conventional surveying, required no track possession or service disruption. 

The resulting RILA® datasets provided engineers with highly accurate and repeatable survey information of the track and the wider rail corridor. This can inform any stage in the design process, be it as-built, or the foundation of more enhanced 3D building information models (BIM).

data visualisation

One of the key requirements of the project was to satisfy Network Rail’s need for passing clearances. These ‘6ft clearances’ were calculated at 5-metre intervals from the measured track alignments, providing Network Rail’s project teams with all the track distances in ClearRoute™ software format. This allows them to quickly analyse whether new rolling stock will cause any infringements (early-warning data) and ensure that design parameters are adhered to.

“Our team has found the RILA® and RILA® 360 technologies to be safer, faster, more accurate and less expensive than any other method of acquiring datasets for sections of track longer than a mile.

RILA® Track (in combination with RILA® 360) has been approved for use by Network Rail under Band 1A, a newly created survey accuracy classification allowing its use for a wide range of design applications. This means that the systems can now be deployed quickly and safely on a routine basis on Britain’s railways.


  • Client

  • Network Rail
  • Location

  • United Kingdom

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