BRITISH infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has awarded Hitachi and its subsidiary Perpetuum a contract to develop and trial monitoring equipment that will eventually predict which sections of track affect ride quality and require maintenance.

As part of the trial, digital sensors with gyroscopes and accelerometers will be fitted either in the coach or on the wheels of trains already operating across the North Clyde Line, the Borders Line and the Fife Circle in Scotland.

Perpetuum is working in partnership with NR, ScotRail and leasing company Porterbrook on the trial.

The aim of the trial is to:

  • reduce disruption to passengers and improve safety
  • reduce the risk to track workers and cut maintenance costs
  • improve the performance of the network and the ride quality of trains, and
  • enable a further movement towards development of intelligent rail infrastructure that can predict and plan preventative maintenance.

At this stage of the technology’s development, Perpetuum can identify the onset of warping or changes to the track. The aim is to be able to build a digital picture of the areas at risk, or which require either inspections or maintenance in the near future.