Finland is testing a new train-based rail infrastructure condition monitoring system that could revolutionize the way railways are maintained. The pilot project, which is being conducted by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) in collaboration with VR FleetCare and EKE-Electronics, is using a Sr2 locomotive equipped with specialised measurement equipment to collect data on the condition of various rail components, including isolation joints, switches, and rails themselves.
The system is designed to detect a wide range of defects, including rail fractures, changes in the stiffness of supporting structures, and locations causing instability of ride. The data collected is analysed using the SmartVision™ platform developed by EKE-Electronics, which provides real-time condition data to FTIA and allows for further analysis by experts.
The goal of the pilot project is to explore the benefits of continuous rail infrastructure condition monitoring for enabling faster and more cost-effective responses to network defects and for making it possible to determine the optimal moment to apply proactive maintenance. If successful, the system could revolutionise the way railways are maintained, making them safer, more reliable, and more efficient.
“Condition monitoring has long been employed in proactive maintenance across various industries and through various methods. In the maintenance of rail networks, we must increasingly shift towards predicting faults and taking planned actions based on actual conditions.
“This ensures precise and safe train operations in a cost-effective manner. Through this trial, we aim to test a new approach to monitoring the condition of different rail components and work towards more systematic, condition-based maintenance” explains Marko Lehtosaari, an expert in rail maintenance at FTIA.
Sami Kalevirta, Head on Digital Solutions at VR FleetCare said: “We have been developing this solution together with EKE for several years, so it is exciting to collaborate with FTIA to validate the benefits of this new measurement method in maintaining the rail network.
“Undisturbed and efficient traffic is naturally our goal as a rolling stock maintainer. With that in mind, we are advancing our digital condition monitoring solutions”
Photo Credit: VR Fleetcare