Austria-based geotechnical specialist Geoconsult has said that it has fast-tracked a risk analysis for an Argentinian railway using low-cost innovative methods.
The company believes that the system developed for the Tren a las Nubes – Train to the Clouds – rail route between Argentina and Chile will benefit the wider Argentinian network and could be used elsewhere.
The challenge on the Tren a las Nubbes scheme involved investigating a 10,000km2 area at high altitude in a short period of time. The route is the only rail link between Argentina and Chile and has 29 bridges, 21 tunnels and rises to an elevation of over 4,400m.
The government was concerned about geohazard risk along a 570km section fo the route from Salta to Socompa on the Chilean border and conventional techniques could have taken six months for the fieldwork alone. The approach taken by Geoconsult reduced the time to one month.
Geoconsult developed a two-stage process using remote sensing data and local expert workshops to identify “hot spots” for risk analysis before the work progressed to in situ verification of the risk analysis using drones.
The analysis classified 25% of the geohazard risks as high and work is now underway to propose suitable technical measures to mitigate these.