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In the process of modernizing the railway, ProRail has decided to invest in learning about the behavior of the railway.

They are currently experiencing issues with three ‘hotspots’ on a 4 km railway stretch. The term ‘hotspots’ are used to refer to challenging locations on a railway track. At the hotspots there is a faster degradation of the track than on an average track site. The hotspots on ProRail’s railway stretch force the passing trains to reduce their speed due to maintenance concerns.

The hotspots might occur because the railway embankment is unstable due to high water contents. The underground primarily consists of clay which is covered in sand. When it rains, it runs through the clay which makes it quite heavy. At the same time, the rain makes the sand almost fluid. The combination of rain, heavy clay, and fluid sand has resulted in an embankment which is sinking.

Solution

ProRail sought a solution which could provide them with a deeper understanding of both the embankment and the railway. They wanted to fully understand exactly how high levels of water content influences the embankment. Simultaneously, they wanted to gain a thorough insight into the movements of the embankment and the railway. ProRail aspired to discover exactly how they move and why.

Therefore, ProRail decided to install a solution delivered by Railmonitor. The tilt sensors from Railmonitor enables ProRail to measure ground and rail movements. Our groundwater level sensors monitor the groundwater level and notifies them if the limits are exceeded.

The data gathered from the installed sensors has enabled ProRail to understand the behavior of their railway and embankments. With the help of Big Data analytics, it helps them to understand how and why it moves and they have taken these insights into account when planning their maintenance strategy.

The knowledge they have gathered from the Railmonitor solution can enable ProRail to predict when and where similar hotspots might occur. Thereby, substantially reducing the risk of experiencing similar challenges in the future.

Paul Kootwijk , Program Manager Tracking & Tracing at the ProRail DataLab, explains how they use the Railmonitor system (the video is in Dutch)

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