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Network Rail has contracted Hitachi Rail and its subsidiary Perpetuum to develop a real-time digital solution that can detect faults in tracks.

This is said to be the first such solution to oversee and predict sections of track needing maintenance and affecting ride quality.

At present, the monitoring equipment is deployed on trains operating across Scotland’s networks such as the North Clyde Line, The Borders, and Fife Circle.

The installation of digital sensors onboard trains provides several benefits.

It minimises disruption to passengers and offer more safety, as well as enhances the performance of the network and trains’ ride quality.

It also reduces the risk to track workers and lowers maintenance expenses.

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By GlobalData

Furthermore, it will pave way for the development of ‘intelligent’ rail infrastructure that will be able to forecast and plan preventative maintenance.

Network Rail introduced a half million-pound competition for the development of a new technology for better track maintenance in the next control period in mid-2024.

Under this programme, Network Rail signed a contract with Perpetuum to expand its ride quality trial to Scotland.

This comes after the completion of trials of Perpetuum’s ride quality monitoring technology with Network Rail on the West Coast main line in 2019.

Perpetuum, in collaboration with Network Rail, ScotRail and Porterbrook, is utilising its self-powered monitoring technology for assessing data in real-time between the train and the track.

This is realised by fitting sensors with gyroscopes and accelerometers, either in the carriages or on the wheels, of operating trains.

Perpetuum remote sensors are easy to install as they use energy-harvesting technology to self power. They also do not need extra wiring or power sources.

Hitachi Rail UK and Ireland Jim Brewin said: “Introducing in-service monitoring technology to improve ride quality demonstrates how Hitachi Rail can utilise digital solutions that support track maintenance. This ability to bring train and track together can solve issues for both passengers and train operators. Hitachi Rail is committed to constantly pioneering and championing new technology to make our railways safer and more reliable.”

Last month, Hitachi Rail won a contract to deploy new digital signalling systems on board Infranord’s two yellow maintenance trains in Scandinavia.