Two established Australian Rail Inspection companies have combined forces to provide an expanded view of rail networks’ assets. Using proven ultrasonic, vision recording, magnetic induction sensing and ground penetrating radar a more complete picture of rail condition is being offered to customers.

“A rail audit was a cost effective way to record a baseline for maintenance planning and then determine the rate of deterioration of the PW assets,” explained Jeff Green, business development manager for C.A.T.E.R.

Each customer can select specific aspects of their network to assess. The information is recorded and then analysed by an office-based team familiar with the audit software and systems.

Particular tasks include weld type identification, condition of the weld and insulated joint, surface condition affected by spalling and shelling, PW assets recording, sleeper (tie) condition and substructure condition.

Mark Bell from GroundProbe said that investigations into substructure integrity should be considered as a contributing factor to poor rail condition. “Weakened substructure can contribute to rail failure as much as other factors and should be monitored accordingly,” he said.

Both companies agreed that traditional ultrasonic inspection was only one part of the maintenance and condition monitoring puzzle. Providing information from various aspects of the rail environment allowed a more informed decision making process.

Cost savings could be found in targeting maintenance plans towards the worst affected areas and thereby reducing the time spent in less serious areas. Less personnel, materials and hours needed to complete a task could all help budget bottom lines if a multi-disciplinary approach to rail inspection was employed.