Railway point

VR FleetCare and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency reach an agreement on condition monitoring of railway point machines

VR FleetCare and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA), which manages the state’s railway network, have signed an agreement on extensive remote condition monitoring of point machines. The agreement covers the condition monitoring of up to 300 points, aiming to monitor the operation of the point machines at several busy traffic points. Condition monitoring of railway point machiness has not been carried out to a similar extent in Finland before.

Failures of point turning machines cause thousands of disruptions to train traffic in Finland every year. Together with its partners, VR FleetCare has been determinedly developing solutions suitable for the condition monitoring of track equipment for years. Diverse pilots have produced positive results and provided comprehensive information to improve the operational reliability of equipment and prevent disruptions. 

“The tender for the condition monitoring of railway points was won by VR FleetCare, and we are looking forward to deploying the state-of-the-art condition monitoring system in maintenance and ensuring punctual traffic,” says Marko Lehtosaari, Specialist at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. 

Prevention of railway point failures benefits several parties 

Point maintenance accounts for a considerable share of the maintenance costs of railway networks. Points have a complex structure and involve many components that affect their functioning. Also, the point must function all year round under all conditions. In the Nordic countries, winter causes its own challenges in the form of snow and ice. The problem is not a small one, as snow and ice accumulating around the point may prevent it from operating properly. Freezing can also break the components and also make it more difficult to locate the fault in the point.  

Point condition monitoring and prevention of failures benefit several parties. It makes the work of the railway network owner and maintenance operator easier and reduces costs when faults can be foreseen in advance. Recovery from disruptions also becomes faster. Finally, the customer travelling on the train of the railway network will be more satisfied when it is possible to prevent the train from being delayed.

“We believe that rail transport can be punctual, regardless of the conditions We are very pleased with winning the FTIA’s tender for the condition monitoring of points. We have worked hard to find smart solutions that work. With regard to the condition monitoring of points, we have made gradual progress, developing a cost-effective solution that is also easy to install to the railway network without causing traffic interruptions,” says Sami Kalevirta, Head of Digital Services at VR FleetCare. 

At the moment, railway point maintenance is based on scheduled maintenance and reacting to faults. VR FleetCare’s solution makes it possible to optimise maintenance and prevent disruptions. The system has been developed together with the Finnish hardware and software development company Vire Labs Oy, whose measurement technology is utilised in the solution. The system was designed for a railway environment in which large volumes of railway infrastructure actuators are centrally controlled from one location. In addition to points, FleetCare is developing and investigating a similar solution for track circuits to further enhance the predictability of track equipment faults.

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