Thermal imaging, via Istock

Space-age tech to revolutionise Northern journeys

A collated talent pool of more than 60 national and international rail sector professionals have had access to a sneak peek of pioneering NASA technology converted for the train operator Northern.

The implementation of this technology comes through the Intelligent Trains Programme, delivered in partnership with Network Rail, Belvoir Rail, Yellow Rail, DG8 and Modux.

Attendees for this event ranged from Network Rail, Jacobs, Atkins, Porterbrook, Angel and Eversholt, joining Northern for a return trip from Manchester Victoria to Bradford Interchange this past Monday.

The journey saw the group traverse the route on a Class 150 train which had seen a major makeover with LIDAR horizon scanning cameras - the same used by NASA to map the surface of the moon - a radar dome, 180-degree thermal imaging software, acoustic monitors, a G-Shock Bogie and an AI camera.

Delegates aboard Intelligent Trains concept train, via Northern

The space-age technology utilised in this programme is hoped to make journeys safer and more efficient for passengers, as it allows Northern to perform ‘real time’ monitoring of its trains. This information informs the operator about the current condition of the track and other infrastructure, allowing proactive decision making as opposed to a reactionary approach.

Rob Warnes, strategic development director at Northern, said:

 “We were delighted to bring together such an illustrious group of rail industry representatives for the inaugural trial of our Intelligent Trains ‘concept train’.

“Among the many benefits of this technology is the ability for ‘early diagnoses’ of engineering issues on both track and train which can be addressed as part of planned maintenance rather than having to react when things go wrong.”

The route in which the Intelligent Trains concept ‘special’ took place also happens to be the home further technological innovation, in the form of the Manchester terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first steam-powered, intercity railway.

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