Engineer railway under inspection and checking construction railway switch and checking work on railroad station by laptop.Engineer wearing safety uniform and safety helmet in work.

Railway engineering projects are complex undertakings and require accurate and reliable information on the railway corridor to underpin design, planning and construction activities. Available information on corridor assets is often outdated or only available in systems that are hard to access. Often existing network asset information is not suited to the project scope and new information datasets must be acquired through expensive on-site surveys.

High resolution mobile LiDAR (or point cloud) datasets collected inside a rail corridor are an incredibly useful resource for engineering projects as they give a detailed three dimensional view of the rail corridor at the time of survey. As long as datasets are not too old, they can reveal extremely useful information to a project engineer, designer or planner to assist with project design and delivery.

While LiDAR datasets recorded on rail networks are becoming ubiquitous, commercially available software tools to support the efficient visualisation and interaction with LiDAR datasets have proven to be disappointing within a railway engineering context.

The reasons for this are manifold. Although a global industry, railway engineering is still a niche discipline with its own set of rules and requirements. Railway networks are highly individualistic with fragmented standards and work processes evident across the industry. While some requirements are universal, like the need to virtually visit and measure rail infrastructure, other requirements can be highly specific to the individual network such as how to report on ballast deficiency or at what interval a track alignment measurement should be taken. Faced with such detailed requirements, global software vendors will tend to pursue scale with software solutions that service a number of sectors at once rather than service any particular sector well.

One software offering, XERRA, is specifically designed for railway surveying, design, inspection, and maintenance applications. It allows users to efficiently visualise, interact with, and extract data from LiDAR scans of rail tracks and surrounding infrastructure. With a growing user base among Australian rail networks and Tier 1 contractors, XERRA is meeting the need of engineering project teams for accurate, reliable information on the rail corridor and assets. Its visualisation and measurement tools support critical engineering activities including dilapidation reporting, design assessment, asset validation, and constructability.

The XERRA platform also offers automated measurement workflows that are designed to limit time spent in the danger zone performing manual inspections and refocus valuable resources on repair and maintenance.

XERRA is compatible with industry standard LiDAR formats including point cloud data from both mobile and static LiDAR systems.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Agonics. For further information, please visit

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