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Technology could end “archaic” physical inspections for Network Rail

shutterstock 223755259 rail lines

Network Rail is working on use of Lidar surveys and Insar satellite data to reduce reliance on physical inspections in a bid to identify potential geotechnical failures in the earlier.

“We have been working with Lidar surveys since 2014 and also looking at Insar data,” said Network Rail head of geotechnics Simon Abbott at GE’s Smart Data and Monitoring Seminar yesterday.

“Neither technology currently works well due to the linear and rural nature of rail routes but machine learning has the potential to remove noise from the data and improve the interpretation.”

Abbott said that start of control period 6 next April will bring research and development in remote sensing and Network Rail is also working with Aecom to look at use of track geometry data for early indication of geotechnical failure.

“Track data could offer a great opportunity to move away from the archaic approach of physically inspecting assets on a periodic basis,” said Abbott.

“Track data is currently under-utilised but there are challenges in the quantity of data and clunky way the data is transferred from the train. However, often track realignment is undertaken to fix the problem but geotechnical analysis of the data may allow us to identify the cause earlier.”

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