Intelligent Quality Assessment of Railway Switches and Crossings

In a railway network of any size switches and crossings (S&Cs) are both a very necessary object as well as a major cost driver for maintenance and renewal. The overall objective of this project is to provide tools for reliable condition assessment of both visible and hidden parts of S&Cs.

This project aims at significantly improving the safety, reliability and operational lifetime of the 3500 switches and crossings (S&Cs) in the Danish railway network.

The project is a close cooperation between the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the Danish rail infrastructure provider Rail Net Denmark and four affiliated European partners with significant expertise within this field. An inter-disciplinary scientific effort is employed to obtain enhanced rail transport reliability and regularity simultaneously with significant savings in S&Cs maintenance costs.

The project results will make maintenance based on intelligent fault prediction tools, instead of the presently used regular planned inspections, and it will provide sophisticated tools to prevent hidden faults from developing to failure in the future. In a novel approach, the project will install state-of the-art sensor technology in selected S&Cs and correlate dynamic parameters during train passage with static geometry data from conventional measurement vehicles. Monitoring of the dynamic responses will provide diagnosis of patterns that indicate when components or ballast begin to deviate from fully functional conditions. Modelling of dynamics will identify root causes to signs of degradation. Damage assessment of components identified by anomalous readings will be done by metallurgical examinations. Data and results will be processed by a holistic model that can produce Maintenance Performance Indicators (MPI) for the S&C condition.

The correlation of sensor data to measuring vehicle data will allow existing data to be used reliably as input for the MPI model. It is expected that this project will enable optimisation of maintenance procedures, by which appropriate maintenance can be predicted in advance, thus avoiding unscheduled repairs and delays in the railway traffic.

 See the INTELLISWTICH project description here.


Dorte Juul Jensen
DTU Mechanical Engineering
+45 45 25 47 77