New track condition monitoring vehicles are a once-in-a-generation purchase by railway operators. Their onboarding typically involves the operation of complex instrumentation and track measurement technologies that are far more advanced than the organisation’s preceding vehicle capabilities. 

The testing and commissioning of such vehicles can present a range of challenges to railways in terms of correlating data from these vehicles against legacy system measurements.

Typically, new condition monitoring technologies involve measurement systems from different suppliers and often include track geometry, rail profile, overhead wire and rail wear measurement systems. 

While these suppliers are all experts at what they do, the data collected by these systems needs to be reconciled to a common track centreline so that observations, faults and trends can be assessed relative to the correct track code, track class and precise network location.  

To test system accuracy and repeatability a common track centreline is, therefore, required. This needs to be spatially and topologically true, up-to-date with respect to track infrastructure, and delivered in a compatible way to the vehicle’s proprietary schema. 

The challenge for the railway operator is in acquiring this digital track centreline in a way that facilitates timely vehicle testing and commissioning.   

With a new track condition monitoring vehicle enroute from the US, Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) needed to quickly acquire a digital track centreline to support the commissioning of the new measurement systems.

Generating this track centreline database, encompassing all MTM mainline track, required expert level spatial and rail asset domain knowledge. 

Australian rail mapping business, Agonics, was engaged to first capture raw GPS and inertial position data across the network and then process this data using survey systems, advanced GIS and FME software into a unique track database format, mandated by the location software onboard the new MTM vehicle, called the EV120. 

The digital track centreline, generated by Agonics, used recording and processing innovations to ensure that all high order features on the network such as turnouts, signals, kilometreage posts and kilometreage inequalities were reflected in the database. 

A key innovation developed by Agonics throughout the project was the extension of its XERRA LiDAR solution to enable feature extraction and survey control validation.

Whereas track geometry vehicles can sometimes take many months or even years to deploy and commission, the new MTM EV120 critical measurement systems were tested and commissioned within a relatively short four month period. 

Agonics is a finalist in the 2022 Australasian Rail Industry Awards to be held on 14 September at Crown Towers, Melbourne.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Agonics. For more information, visit https://agonics.com.

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