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Sensors – a new future for the Swedish railway?

Train station

Back in October last year, we published a blog regarding the rail infrastructure in Sweden. During our research, it quickly became evident that the Swedish rail infrastructure has not been maintained properly since its commercialization in the 1980s.

For the past decade, train traffic has grown rapidly, but the capacity of the railway has been unable to follow suit. Limited capacity makes the rail system all too sensitive to disruptions, and there is a need for an expansion of the Swedish railway network.

As a result, the Swedish government established a committee with the assignment to analyze and identify the underlying problems. They were also responsible for making recommendations for solutions and improvements. Their analysis revealed a pressuring need for optimized rail infrastructure. They recommended constructing new railways and strengthen the maintenance strategy.

The KAJT program – a brief run-through

In January 2013, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) decided to join forces with seven academic partners. Together they decided to establish a research program known as ‘Capacity in the railway traffic system’ – or as it is referred to in Sweden: Kapacitet I Järnvägstrafiken (KAJT).

Through their research and analysis, KAJT develops concepts, tools, and methods aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Swedish rail infrastructure and design effective and reliable traffic flows. Simply put, they aim at transforming the Swedish rail system into a world leader in efficiency, quality, and flexibility.

Since its establishment, KAJT has contributed to increased resilience and punctuality, a higher level of capacity and reduced maintenance costs.

Faster data collection with sensors

The research made by KAJT has undoubtfully played a vital role in increasing the efficiency in the Swedish rail system.

Maintenance of the rail infrastructure has been one of the areas that have been in the need of optimization. The Swedish maintenance strategy has not been able to meet the demands of an increased level of traffic. As a result, Trafikverket has installed a new monitoring solution on parts of its rail system: sensors. They have previously used track recording cars to inspect the status of the tracks, the signaling system, and overhead lines.

There are too few track recording cars compared to the number of tracks, and they have limitations regarding measuring data. The sensor system enables them to predict maintenance issues and correct them before they arise. Opposed to the traditional track recording cars, sensors can be installed on operating rail stretches. This enables Trafikverket to cover a much larger area and collect more data at a faster speed.

The system is tested in parallel and has been installed on different operators vehicles.

The KAJT program is expected to run until 2025.


The content for this piece has been based on inspiration by the following articles:

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