‘It is important to know where, when and how to maintain the tracks’

As the tracks are being used more and more worldwide, the timeframe in which the infrastructure can be serviced becomes shorter. Especially on busy tracks, it is no more than a couple of hours per night. Correct maintenance planning is thus essential, says manager of railway division Mika Silvast of Roadscanners Oy in Finland. He is one of the expert speakers at the Intelligent Rail Summit 2018.

“It is necessary to develop methods to pinpoint exactly when, where and which maintenance is needed,” Silvast says. “At Roadscanners Oy, we have developed a method utilizing multi-source information to help plan maintenance.” At the Intelligent Rail Summit he wants to explain this method because it is an effective tool to put money in the right location at the right time.

Efficient maintenance

“You must know what to do in which place”, Silvast argues. “Time is of the essence. On top of that, track maintenance budgets need to be used more effectively. In short: maintenance must be optimized to be as efficient as possible.” Silvast believes Roadscanners has developed a method that allows railway owners to keep their track substructures as good condition as possible called ‘The Rail Doctor®’ method.

The method utilizes information from multiple sources. This includes analyzing more than just the information on the defects themselves. Collecting continuous information of the track substructures, their material thickness and quality, and tracking the conditions of the track environment is also required in order to know under which circumstances the defects occurred, and allows these faults to be anticipated by infrastructure managers.

Data collection

This means that a lot of data must be collected. One of the ways to collect the data efficiently is by instrumented track inspection vehicle equipped with a ground penetrating radar (GPR), laser scanners, GPS and digital camera systems. “This method is widely used, such as in North America, Europe and Nordic countries”, Silvast says.

“Data collection campaigns are usually done well before maintenance planning period or as a quality control measurement right after rehabilitation works. In addition, the measurements can be done regularly for monitoring how the track structures behave after maintenance”, Silvast explains. Thanks to these vast amounts of data, it becomes easier to know just when and where the track needs to be serviced.

“Data analysis with combined multi-source information results in more accurate and detailed maintenance decisions”, Silvast explains. This is especially necessary now that more and more railway networks around the world are experiencing increased traffic meaning that the windows for annual maintenance works are getting shorter and heavier axle loads causing more stress and deformation for the track substructures. “The aim is to plan the correct maintenance, in the correct location, with the correct method and at the correct time.”

Intelligent Rail Summit

Mika Silvast is the manager of the railway division of Roadscanners Oy in Finland. He holds a Master of Science in Geophysics specializing in non-destructive testing of construction materials and subgrade soils and has 20 years of international experience on infrastructure surveys and research utilizing GPR method.

He will discuss experiences with an innovative method developed for effective track rehabilitation and maintenance planning at the Intelligent Rail Summit 2018. The summit takes place in Malmo, Sweden this November. Click here to view the complete programme.


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