Track Condition Monitoring

There are several different options for implementing condition-based maintenance on rail infrastructure, with major differences in terms of technical implementation as well as cost and usability. Our overview as a rolling stock maintenance company shows how constant monitoring enables cost-effective solutions, with full track network coverage.

VR FleetCare has measured the tracks in Finland since 2019 in cooperation with EKE-Electronics. A lot of valuable information and knowledge has been gained during these years.

In addition to monitoring the general track condition, changes on the condition of various track components such as joints, crosses, switches, welds, level crossings and bridges can also be detected. The railway network can be scanned by a very limited number of systems.

railroad tracks

Commercial fleet can be used to monitor track condition

Basic problem on the periodical track measurement by measuring cars is that the timespan between measurements can stretch out to be too long. Several track and rail defects, such as breakage of insulation joints causing traffic stops, develop much quicker.

Typically, defects are seen only when they have already developed to a problem, causing additional and costly repairs leading to delays on passenger and freight traffic. With track condition monitoring, the phenomena can be detected early before they become an issue.

Track condition monitoring using commercial fleet

Track condition monitoring is based on locating faults from abnormal behavior of track components with sensitive acceleration sensors. For example, a single locomotive runs up to 1000 kilometers daily, scanning the track condition at all times. The tracking system can be installed in any type of rolling stock.

Track condition monitoring software user interface on a laptop

Track condition monitoring can be used to locate and fix defects before they become problems

The system is installed in a standard main line locomotive (or other type of rolling stock), and sensitive acceleration sensors located in wheel bearings, detect wheel-rail interaction, based on changes in the vibration characteristics. Hunting sensors and gyroscope on bogie frame detect changes in the running behavior of the bogie and thus locomotive (or other type of rolling stock) caused by e.g., deterioration of track geometrics. GPS records the position.

Transition to condition-based maintenance

In cooperation with EKE-Electronics we are using more condition monitoring data for preventive maintenance purposes. The developed analytical methodology is based on hybrid approach utilising both wheel-rail interaction physics and data-based machine models. Continuous vibration measurement with very high sampling rate gives valuable information about the rail and general track condition.

The solution used is flexible, scalable, and cloud-based, granting easy user log in with a standard web browser, with cyber security being taken care of at every level of the solution. 

Taking care

VR FleetCare, acting as an ECM for its clients, is able to take care of all the phases of the project including installation of the system on your rolling stock, risk assessments and acceptance. Our strategy is to provide the whole value chain of digital transformation together with selected partners and long experience from railway industry.

Don't hesitate to contact us [email protected], if you would like to get further information!