Network Rail, Incremental Solutions and Frauscher Sensonic have agreed to work together to develop FORSE (Fibre Optic Railway Sensing Equipment) – a new cutting-edge method of detecting the early signs of defective rail joints, currently only detectable through manual inspection.
Funded by Innovate UK, FORSE builds on Incremental’s existing and proven real-time train identification, movement and tracking solution AEGIS and combines this with data from Sensonic, which is deriving a broad range of information by creating and interpreting a digital twin of all vibrations along a railway track.
While Sensonic’s solution detects the degradation of rail joints, Incremental’s AEGIS provides data to track and identify all trains on the network. As a result, valuable information is instantly attainable to Network Rail via a bespoke dashboard that can be accessed remotely by all relevant stakeholders.
To assess this new combined technology, a 12-month trial will be run by Network Rail between Allington Junction and Skegness on the East Midland Poacher line.
Sensonic chief commercial officer Deep Desai explained: “The deployment of FORSE will dramatically reduce the need for speculative track inspections, increasing productivity by freeing maintenance staff to solve problems rather than look for them, while improving lineside safety by removing boots from ballast.
“We’re excited about this new collaboration with Incremental and Network Rail to fast-track a game-changing solution focused on customer usability, efficiency and safety with our solution being part of this.
“With every train movement, the vibrations caused all along the infrastructure contains a plethora of insights. We are the leading company in the industry and our sole focus is on using our industry knowledge to augment the railway passenger experience; at Sensonic we have seen the power of our SonicTwin and continue to learn how the insights from the vibration digital twin can be used for upskilling staff and increasing the efficiency of the current track maintenance ecosystem.”
Daniel Lee-Bursnall, co-founder and chief executive officer of Incremental, commented: “Every year around £2 billion and more than one-million-man hours are spent walking the track to detect, locate and rectify faults.
“Fusing the train tracking and location data from AEGIS with data from Sensonic enables FORSE to monitor the condition of fixed points and track individual trains dynamically and accurately as they move around the network, acting as virtual track inspectors.”
The jury behind Innovate UK was impressed by the project’s potential to support the railway industry in reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Innovate UK funding is used to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. It connects businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercial products, services, and business growth.
Daniel Lee-Bursnall spoke for both Incremental and Sensonic when he said: “We’re thrilled that once again Innovate UK has recognised our proven track record of delivering pioneering and effective solutions that will benefit the performance of the rail network for everyone.
“FORSE is a perfect example of how individual companies, with their own areas of expertise, can work together to create one solution that is a game-changer for the rail industry and its customers.”