Finland EMU train and track (Photo: Mojpe/Pixabay)

FINLAND: VR Group’s rolling stock maintenance company VR FleetCare is testing technology it has developed for the digital monitoring of the condition of track equipment including track circuits.

A pilot project with national infrastructure manager Väylävirasto was launched last year and has recorded more than a million measurement events from around 200 track circuits in locations which were selected for their susceptibility to high impact disruptions.

Achievements included detecting a rail break as early as 24 h before the first traffic disruption.

‘Traditionally, it has been possible to detect defects in track equipment only after they start causing traffic disruptions. Digital condition monitoring provides time to react and minimise disruption’, said Sami Saloheimo, Senior Specialist, Condition Monitoring, at VR FleetCare.

‘When an anomaly is detected within a track circuit, an additional inspection can be carried out and a necessary maintenance team can be directed to the site during lower traffic hours. The better the knowledge of abnormalities and early signs indicating defects are, the better they can be targeted and repaired.’

Marko Lehtosaari, railway maintenance specialist at Väylävirasto, said the infrastructure manager’s focus is on the development of long-term processes rather than on technology itself.

‘These pilots in co-operation with VR FleetCare have shown us that quite simple systems provide useful information’, he said. ‘Digital condition monitoring of rail infrastructure and track equipment is not difficult, if you have skilled partners and sufficient courage.’