European rail provider Deutsche Bahn Netz (DB) and OptaSense have entered into an 18-month partnership to validate a set of fibre-sensing tools designed to reduce the rail track operating costs.

OptaSense distributed acoustic-sensing (DAS) technology, capable of recording and reporting alerts and operational train and track data, will be validated along DB’s network.

DB Netz will initially test eight priority applications in all weather conditions to gather better understanding into the future of railway sensing.

"We now seek to prove the business impact of this technology."

The set of events and sensing requirements include accurate platform announcements of the next train, wheel flats and other wheel-to-rail interface problems, hot axle box, unauthorised access, metal theft, vandalism and attack. Also included are rock and tree-fall detection, animal detection, real-time train tracking with train integrity.

Deutsche Bahn Netz AG spokesperson Joern Schlichting said: "We are very interested by the opportunities for this exciting technology, and believe that fibre optic sensing has the potential to replace many of our trackside sensors, greatly reducing the cost of running our network.

"Following technical trials in 2012 where we first validated the detection capability of OptaSense DAS technology we now seek to prove the business impact of this technology to deliver a multi-event detection capability within one trackside sensor deployment."

After the successful validation of the software tools, the applications will be commercialised jointly by both the companies.

Currently operational in over 40 countries across the globe, OptaSense’s DAS is also used to protect and monitor assets such as including oil and gas pipelines, borders and vital site perimeters.