JR East is to use AI techniques to process data collected by its ’East-i’ measuring train.

JAPAN: JR East has launched an AI-based monitoring system to enhance the quality of its overhead wire and catenary mast inspection process.

The technology is being used in conjunction with the company’s Series E491 ‘East-i’ monitoring train, which is deployed to inspect track, signalling and electrification systems on 1 067 mm gauge routes. The train can monitor the wear, height, and deviation of the overhead wire using sensors; from April 2022 it will also be equipped with a camera to take images of the overhead wire and enable the checking of components through automated video analysis.

JR East anticipates that its manual workload will be reduced by about 10% through the use of AI to automate the OLE inspection. In the past, manual checking of catenary systems was done at night on an annual cycle. In the future it will be possible to undertake monitoring runs over the entire network four times a year.

JR East is also planning to introduce remote monitoring of the OLE on suburban lines, where the high level of traffic makes manual inspections difficult and restricts them to overnight periods.

At present, staff in the railway’s monitoring centres are working to improve the efficiency of image recording, enabling the video analysis system to identify OLE components that may need closer inspection, repair or replacement.