Thirty thousand pounds granted to Dr Donya Hajializadeh as part of a Department for Transport funded programme delivered by Connected Places Catapult has helped the structures specialist to research the effectiveness of a novel method of monitoring rail bridges. If successful, the technology could be used to assess the condition of thousands of such crossings in the UK.
Donya received a Transport Research and Innovation Grant in 2021 to explore the potential application of an inspection system called INORAIL which aims to use trains travelling at operational speed to identify signs of damage and defects on railway bridges.
Donya is keen to explore how an instrumented train, and perhaps others carrying passengers in future years, could routinely be used to detect bridge defects such as scour, fatigue and steel corrosion.
She is currently working with Network Rail to assess how well the monitoring system can identify problems on a masonry bridge at an undisclosed location in the London region.
The INORAIL inspection system uses accelerometers that measure vibrations generated by a maintenance train as it crosses a bridge, to get a sense of the structure’s health. Defect ‘signatures’ are extracted from these vibration signals to detect damages that influence the structure’s behaviour.
Part of Donya’s research involves identifying how different bridge defects create different signatures depending on their size, the structural composition of a bridge and its age. Machine learning and a damage classification algorithm are used to interrogate the data.