World-leading lidar survey set to improve passenger journeys: RILA on freight train at Paddington

Monday 17 Aug 2020

World-leading lidar survey set to improve passenger journeys

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Wales & Borders

This summer a new innovative way of inspecting the railway using high-quality imagery has begun across west London, the Thames Valley, the west and south west as part of plans to reduce delays for passengers and improve safety for staff 

Network Rail has teamed up with Fugro, a leading Geo-data specialist, following their success on the Wales route in 2019, who will capture high quality lidar data and images of thousands of track miles to millimetre accuracy for analysis.

The advanced Geo-data collected by the system’s sensors measures absolute track position, track geometry and the wider rail corridor and will enable any faults on the railway to be detected sooner and before they potentially lead to delays for passengers.

It will also improve safety as it will reduce the amount of time railway engineers need to spend on the track.

The survey will capture 97% of Network Rail’s Western route, which runs from Paddington to Penzance and to the Welsh border, and provide an almost complete view of the network to levels of accuracy that have never been seen before.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route director, said:

“It’s fantastic to be using cutting edge technology to reduce cost of maintenance and effectively provide passengers with an improved experience on the railway. 

“We are excited to see the survey results and look forward to seeing the benefits for passengers, and our colleagues on the Western route.” 

Speaking on the award of the contract, Rikkert Wienia, Regional Manager Rail, Fugro said:

“With RILA we have revolutionised the way railway data and asset information is collected: Geo-data is delivered faster and with less disruption to normal rail services, significantly increasing the safety profile of track survey works.” 

Network Rail are also collaborating with Fugro on a trial to demonstrate how track alignments generated using Fugro’s Geo-data can be directly uploaded to a tamper’s computer to optimise tamping of railway lines. The trial is being funded with a £394,000 grant from the Department for Transport through the First of a Kind 2020 (FOAK2020) rail industry innovation programme, which is managed by Innovate UK.

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Callum Jones

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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