Advanced Inspection Methods for Overhead Rail Lines

The Connected Places Catapult and Network Rail are seeking innovative products and solutions to improve the detection of defects on overhead rail lines.

Network Rail is responsible for 20,000 miles of rail lines in the UK, of which around 40% is electrified via overhead contact wires. This project of railway innovations aims to reduce the in-operation failure of contact wires, through the accurate identification of defects at an early stage, allowing intervention and preventative maintenance to occur.

Railway Innovation Solutions; Transport Innovation; Future of Transport

The passage of trains at speeds of up to 125 mph causes degradation of the contact wire, this process leads to a continual risk of fatigue failure and complete breakage of the contact wire. In the last year, 7 failure events have occurred each costing £1M or more in repairs and disruption.

Currently, the primary method of inspecting the overhead lines in order to identify degradation and deterioration is limited to periodic inspections which are disruptive and not very effective.

Railway Innovation Solutions; Transport Innovation; Future of Transport

Rakesh Athukattu at Network rail explained:

“The current replacement cycle for overhead lines is based upon failure history and preventative maintenance plan. However, lack of ability to predict or detect the precursors to failure, combined with the high consequence of failure can increase costs beyond required levels that would be possible if we could predict failures accurately.

We want to engage to UK’s innovation community to improve our process so we can provide a better service with less disruption to our customers.”  

If you are interested in taking part in this railway innovations project you can find out full details of the challenge and respond here.

The window for expressions of interest closes on the 18th August 2019.