UK: Two Alstom Pendolino trainsets operated by Virgin Trains on the UK’s West Coast Main Line have been fitted with monitoring equipment designed by Serco which can identify faults in the overhead electrification while running in regular service.

Accelerometers on the pantograph frame detect unusual impacts from defects such as kinks, loose equipment or steps at contact wire joins. Details of the 10 largest events are stored in a processing unit on the base of the pantograph.

If any events are greater than a threshold value the details are sent by Bluetooth to a receiver interfaced to the Train Management System, and this feeds an alarm to the Alstom Traintracer monitoring system (RG 9.10 p185). This alerts Alstom and Virgin Trains controllers, and generates an e-mail to infrastructure manager Network Rail. Comprehensive context data can be obtained from a flash memory card on the train.