The increase of electrified infrastructure within the railway industry shows its commitment to improving efficiency and lowering the carbon footprint.

For those lines that haven’t already been upgraded, the commitment across other parts of the network to replace the use of fossil fuels with clean, quiet and emission-free electric-power can be found across vast swathes of the world’s networks where work is in progress.

Before any installation of the required infrastructure can take place, however, there is a great deal of work to be done to ensure the suitability of sites. Installing the overhead line equipment (OLE) that supports electrification in the wide-open is clearly a very different prospect to doing so on older networks where there have, understandably, been no consideration for the integration of electrically-powered trains. The railway bridges that pepper the lines, which in many cases have been there as long as the tracks themselves, provide one of the most obvious challenges for the installation of electrification equipment. And the work doesn’t stop there; when it’s up and running the rapidly growing vegetation that if unchecked can engulf and wreak havoc.

Providing the answers to the above challenges and many more in between is a powerful mobile mapping system that is intuitive, versatile and portable which transmits real-time actionable information that enables system integrators and maintenance teams with the information they need at their fingertips: t-Cat OLE Mobile Mapping system. Exploring the technology’s suitability, SmartRail World speaks to the technology’s makers, Telice, ahead of its attendance at SmartRail in June.

With offices in León and Madrid in Spain Telice has a 40-year heritage that’s enabled it to develop a mobile mapping system that is powerful, intuitive, versatile and portable. The t-Cat OLE Mobile Mapping system has helped bring about a marked improvement for the company and the wider industry, confirmed its CEO.

Telice CEO Cesáreo González Alvarez says: “We have increased our productivity and built customer trust during catenary-related works by using t-Cat as a key tool in our electrification projects.”

The t-Cat’s sensor-equipped system employs the latest technologies, including LIDAR – the measuring innovation that fires thousands of pulses of light a second to calculate the distance from the t-Cat to the target. It uses that powerful sensory technology to return vital information that works in any environment, day or night allowing for the completion of tasks including track gauge, tunnel profile and 3D point cloud visualisation. Using the t-Cat to carry out 3D point visualisation, alone, saves hundreds of work hours when compared to the more traditional approach of gathering information, owing to the removal of on-field survey and engineering design that’s usually required.

T-Cat is an efficient tool for measuring many electrical clearance distances, doing so while avoiding the use of high-rail platforms and reliably providing sound evidence of compliance through a laser-point cloud. It is this very functionality, allied with its capability to check clearance compliance through tunnels, bridges and other structures, that saw it make such an impact in controlling the geometry on a section of the line on Crossrail and also in the control of electrical clearances for of Spain’s high-speed line, Venta de Baños-Burgos. Further testing has been carried in the UK by the manager of its tracks, Network Rail, a partnership that led Jody Wells from the asset engineering department to attest: “I believe the product could benefit track maintenance team as well as OLE.”

Commenting on the improvements the Telice unit brought to the Spanish project, Carlos Alonso said: “Thanks to the tCat, we got sound evidence of the compliance of the electrical clearances with the applicable regulation, reflected in the as-built documentation handed with the project It also saved us hundreds of hours of work.”

Built with the backing of Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation programme, the unit is backed by powerful and intuitive field software can be used with minimal training and allows users to check the progress of field surveys while they’re in progress. It has been built to enable operators to focus on the job in hand, not the software, meaning that all the gathered information required for decision making can be made available to users in the field, in real time. Digitally secure, all harvested data is uploaded to a protected cloud platform for detailed analysis by back-office staff, a process that enhances collaboration between field and remote users.

Now in the final developmental phase, the t-Cat will be completely finished by the end of 2019. To hear more about the system and to see its power, adaptability and portability in person, Telice will be in attendance at SmartRail in Munich in June.