The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has started testing of a new rail adhesion measurement system.

Conducted in partnership with Balfour Beatty Rail Limited (BBRL) and South West Trains, the trial is intended to understand adhesion problems and help provide better rail head treatments.

There are currently no known measurement methods for routine monitoring of adhesion conditions and the causes of low-adhesion phenomena is not yet understood in detail.

"The trial is intended to understand adhesion problems and help provide better rail head treatments."

Posing a significant challenge to the UK, poor adhesion could result in unpredictable traction and braking behaviour that in turn impacts indirect costs due to failure to maximise the infrastructure’s capacity.

The new system is based on the BBRL TrueTrak Geometry measurement system with additional sensors to detect adhesion conditions.

As part of testing, the new system was deployed on one of SWT’s Class 159 diesel multiple units in August.

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By GlobalData

The instrumented train will continuously collect data during late 2014 on the routes from Waterloo to Salisbury, Exeter and Bristol, including services to Southampton and Portsmouth.

Approximately 3GB of raw data is expected to be generated by the instrumented train, which will roughly cover 1,000km a day.

Partially funded by Innovate UK, the project is being carried out under the ‘Accelerating Innovation in Rail’ programme and is based on a programme of RSSB-funded research modelling by Loughborough University.

According to TRL, successful evaluation of the system will help provide a real-time indication of adhesion conditions to assist train drivers and network operators.