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Network Rail Scotland has for the first time utilised a track based three-dimensional scanner to precisely model the railway infrastructure ahead of the arrival of new trains onto the network.

Three-dimensional scan system puts new train fleets on track

Network Rail Scotland has for the first time utilised a track based three-dimensional scanner to precisely model the railway infrastructure ahead of the arrival of new trains onto the network.

With new fleets of trains arriving onto Scotland’s rail way, including the LNER Azuma, class 365s and class 385s, and the growing demands of freight operators, the task of making sure they actually fit on existing lines has never been more crucial or time critical.

The Trimble GEDOScan system – operated by Network Rail’s team of absolute track geometry (ATG) engineers – has been deployed to collect detailed information about the track and surrounding features such as bridges, parapets, and platforms – quickly gathering precise, high-resolution data for use in track clearance assessments on structures and tunnels.

The new system was introduced in April and is already delivering higher quality scanning and modelling quicker and more precisely than before with a relative accuracy of less than 5mm.  It also increases safety for rail engineers who now need to spend less time on the track to gather much more detailed data.

The scanning system has been used across the network to carry out general surveys for maintenance and monitoring but also to assess the capability and suitability of specific routes to carry certain types of rolling stock – such as to review the possibility of introducing class 158 rolling stock on the West Highland Line and ahead of the introduction of High Speed Trains (HSTs) on the network between Scotland’s seven cities.

Surveys have also been carried out to assess the network for future freight capacity growth such as at Mossgiel tunnel near Kilmarnock (pictured), Drumlanrig, Blochairn and Duke St tunnels as  the railway prepares for larger and longer freight trains on the network and the benefits this could bring in terms of reducing emissions and removing vehicles from congested roads.

Graham Hutchison, absolute track geometry engineer with Network Rail in Scotland said: “Three dimensional scanning provides more, and more detailed information in a shorter time which reduces the need to be on the track; making it safer as well as more efficient.

“This system is ideally suited to tunnel surveys where irregular construction can make it difficult to locate the main pinch points. The three-dimensional scan measures the full extent of a tunnel precisely in about a fifth of the time than it took previously.

“It can also be used for proactive monitoring to inform maintenance requirements and to better predict and prevent faults and to reduce disruption for passengers.”

This article was published on Network Rail website (09/05/18).