Digital Institute

Low Impact Light Rail

Low Impact Light Rail

Main line railways have used track geometry recording systems since the 1960s and the technology associated with them has been developed and expanded ever since.

Main lines normally deploy this technology on dedicated manned measurement trains and return the large amounts of data they produce to dedicated data processing centres. Managing the key rail and overhead assets in this way is now fully engrained and highly effective. It also requires a level of investment and technical management that has historically been beyond smaller railways.

The use of mobile broadband and Cloud Computing lower the cost of entry into a region where smaller railways and tramways are able to benefit from similar technology to their larger counterparts.

In this project, a handheld line profiler was developed by partners at Balfour Beatty and the Digital Institute was responsible for the data processing. e-Science Central was deployed in the AWS cloud to provide data management and coordination with visualisation software.

The project developed a fully costed proof of concept demonstrator for the assessment of light railway tracks and overhead lines. This was demonstrated to the umbrella body for light railways, UK Tram, who will provide an evaluation and decide on whether or not to commission a full trial.

Low impact rail project image
Lowering the cost of detecting track failures. Photo credit: UK Tram.