DB Network and Vossloh have agreed a significant extension to their existing framework for preventative rail maintenance.

The contract now covers 12,000km of track in the coming year and Vossloh will turn its attention to the most highly utilised lines of Germany’s rail system, the so-called “high-performance network,” using its high-speed grinding (HSG) technology. DB Network first carried out tests of Vossloh’s HSG technology on turnouts in 2016 and subsequently began expanding deployment of the system across the network.

With the latest preventative maintenance programme, there will be a digital element to the process, as a “smart” HSG train equipped with extensive measurement and analysis technology to record important track condition data during the rail grinding operation.

Vossloh’s HSG machines can be operated at speeds of up to 80km/h on main line routes and up to 60km/h on urban lines, significantly faster than traditional machines. The machines are equipped with sensor technology, some of which was developed in-house and which can simultaneously record condition data on the track during rail grinding without the need for track closures.

The track condition data is collected in real time, evaluated by means of algorithms and then visualised in a web-based application to present concrete recommendations for any action that needs to be taken.

The rail grinding programme can be individually adapted to specific track conditions and Vossloh says that regular use of the smart HSG machines not only effectively prevents rail defects and significantly extends rail service life but also forms a basis for predictive track maintenance as the data history grows.

DB recently announced that it would be expanding the high-performance network, which currently comprises 3500 route-km, to 9000 route-km by the end of 2030, so the HSG technology will be needed more than ever.

“With this consistent use of HSG technology, DB Network is underlining its claim to meet the increasing loads on the network with innovative solutions,” says member of the management board of DB Network responsible for asset and maintenance management, Dr Volker Hentschel. “On our high-performance network, the traffic-friendly rail maintenance provided by HSG will make a valuable contribution to greater reliability and growth.”

“In view of the increasing utilisation of networks, preventive and, in perspective, predictive maintenance technologies are gaining massive importance,” CEO of Vossloh, Mr Oliver Schuster says. “We are proud that we are once again making a significant contribution to an efficient, reliable rail network and thus enabling more sustainable mobility in Germany.”