by Josephine Cordero Sapién
06 Sep 2021
Network Rail has contracted a consortium led by Thales Ground Transportation Systems to develop and trial fibre-optic acoustic sensing (FOAS) technology.
The purpose of FOAS is to improve safety and performance on the network. The FOAS technology will also be enriched with data fusion to further improve its ‘listening’ abilities.
There are already around 20,000km of fibre-optic cables running alongside railway lines in Britain. These can be used as virtual microphones to improve remote condition monitoring and deliver train performance data. One of the chief benefits of this technology is that it uses existing infrastructure.
This contract comes after a design contest that was launched in November 2020 by Network Rail and ProRail – the two infrastructure managers (UK and Netherlands) signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on R&D in March 2019. The contest asked more than 40 suppliers to put forward ideas for a year-long outcome-focused trial for FOAS, IoT, sensors and smart CCTV cameras, brought together by intelligent data fusion and processing. Four operational challenges were to be addressed:
The trial with Thales will take place at Network Rail’s RIDC Melton test track as well as on the mainline railway between Melton Mowbray and Leicester starting this autumn.
“This is a brilliant example of collaboration between Network Rail and ProRail to research and develop solutions to problems that are common to us both, and we look forward to working closely with the Thales-led consortium. RIDC Melton and the adjacent main line provide the perfect operational scenarios for us to safely and expertly test the technology and fully evaluate its potential.”
In its statement, Network Rail further pointed out that the data gathered in this trial could feed into the Rail Data Marketplace recently announced by the UK government, a platform to share rail data across the industry. The platform, which is receiving 5m GBP in government funding, will launch in 2022.
The trial operations phase of the Elizabeth line has now begun. This is the final stage of the project before the line opens in 2022.
Work on HS2’s Old Oak Common 850-metre-long station box has begun. The reinforced concrete structure will form the station's frame and base.
Regular train services resumed on the Dartmoor Line between Exeter and Okehampton this past weekend after a 50-year hiatus.
The Integrated Rail Plan published today, 18 November 2021, announces a huge slash in new railway lines being built in England.
Following the collision between a SWR train and a GWR train on 31 October, the line is set to reopen to passenger traffic on 16 November.
Jonn Elledge laments COP26's focus on electric vehicles to the exclusion of all other modes of transport, including the cleanest of them all.
For Transport Day at COP26 (10 Nov 2021), UITP and UIC have released a joint statement urging a focus on rail and public transport.
Alstom and Eversholt Rail have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at the development of 10 three-car hydrogen trains for the UK.
Hitachi Rail and Angel Trains have agreed to retrofit batteries on to TransPennine Express Nova 1 intercity trains.
The Office of Rail and Road has published its Signalling Market Study, launched in November 2020, to improve competition in the sector in GB.
Hitachi Rail and ScottishPower have signed a three-year deal for 100 percent renewable electricity (wind, solar, hydro-electric).
East Midlands Railway's Eastcroft depot near Nottingham is being upgraded to the tune of two million GBP. Works will be complete in June 2022.
The RAIB said wheel slide was at play in the collision between a SWR and a GWR service at Salisbury Tunnel Junction on 31 October 2021.
Network Rail and GWR are trialling a new information service designed to enable passengers to make more informed decisions.
Commuting into London lags behind rest of the UK says RDG, putting the recovery of London’s shops, theatres, restaurants and bars at risk.
The Railway Industry Association is asking the UK Government to urgently publish an update of its Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline.
A study commissioned by the RDG has found that building the UK’s net zero railway could lead to the creation of approximately 6,000 jobs.
HS2 has published a shortlist of bidders for the Phase 2a Design and Delivery Partner contract. The winner will be announced next summer.
The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has set out six key actions for UK Government ahead of its Spending Review next week.
A new report says that protecting light rail services is key to ensuring towns and cities recover from the impact of Covid-19.
London’s Night Tube will resume service on the Central and Victoria lines from 27 December on Saturdays and Sundays.
Southeastern services begin under the government's Operator of Last Resort following last month's franchise breach announcement.
In this month's column, Jonn Elledge muses on the future of HS2's eastern leg and the political tug of war taking place behind the scenes.
Next month the first phase of industry engagement on the UK’s new passenger service contracts (PSCs) will begin.
Network Rail has awarded Hitachi Rail and Linbrooke S a contract to design a digital signalling solution for the Gloucester area.
After a 50-year hiatus, the Dartmoor Line will resume regular passenger services between Okehampton and Exeter St Davids next month.
New figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that UK rail travel started to rebound between April and June 2021.
A footbridge made from super-strong fibre-reinforced plastic has been installed in Bicester to replace a footpath level crossing.
Scotland’s First Minister has said that decarbonising transport, including rail services, can help reduce the threat of climate change.
HS2 tunnel boring machine ‘Florence’ has passed the one mile mark, cutting through a mix of chalk and flint beneath the Chiltern hills.
Network Rail has announced a £25m plan to protect the Newport-Gloucester line from further damage caused by extreme weather.
Vivarail’s next-gen battery train will be launched at COP26 this November, and will run daily services throughout the event.
The British government's Operator of Last Resort will run Southeastern services, following a £25m breach of the franchise agreement.
HS2 has invited six bidders to tender for a major two-part enabling works contract for its recently approved Phase 2a section.
The amount of freight moved across the Uk's railway has returned to pre-pandemic levels according to new Office of Rail and Road statistics.
The Chair of the Williams Rail Review warns it’s now or never to radically overhaul Britain’s confusing and outdated rail fares system.
Transport for London (TfL) has opened the new extension to the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea Power Station.
TfL's recent ad campaign to get passengers back using its trains and buses is a symptom of its underlying funding woes, writes Jonn Elledge.
A new report showcases UK rail as a major economic sector that’s driving growth, investment and jobs right across the United Kingdom.
Network Rail has completed upgrades at Hayes & Harlington station ahead of the Elizabeth line opening in the first half of next year.
One year on from the start of phase one's construction, HS2 has announced that 20,000 people are now working on the high-speed rail project.
New research by the Rail Delivery Group has highlighted the negative effect new commuting habits could have on city centre economies.
HS2 has confirmed the shortlist of bidders to build its control centre and rolling stock maintenance depot.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its interim report into the cracks found in Hitachi's Class 800 trains.
RAIB has made recommendations to London Underground in its report into a fatal accident that took place at Waterloo Underground station.
Network Rail's completed signalling work on new track near Peterborough that will divert freight trains under the East Coast Main Line.
New open access operator Lumo will offer direct, fully electric rail services between London and Edinburgh starting at £14.90 for a single.
The upgrade works at Bristol East Junction have been completed with full train services at Bristol Temple Meads having been resumed.
HS2 Ltd has published revised images of the Adelaide Road headhouse in Camden, after changes were made to the design.
National Rail has launched Alert Me by WhatsApp, which gives passengers real-time personalised travel information via the messaging app.
Images of HS2’s Chesham Road rural headhouse, which will provide emergency access to the 10-mile-long Chiltern tunnel, has been unveiled.
Network Rail is delivering works to prevent the tracks between Crewe and Chester from flooding as part of the Great North Rail Project.
23 new signals and 109 pieces of associated signalling equipment have been installed around Trafford Park under the Great North Rail Project.
The companies shortlisted to build HS2's Interchange Station in Solihull have been named by HS2 Ltd. The contract is to be awarded in 2022.
Network Rail’s southern region has invested over £1.8bn in the railway to support the UK’s mission to ‘build back better’.
The 13-mile electrification project between Wigan and Bolton has been given the go-ahead by the British government.
Specialist divers are pouring underwater concrete to protect two major West Coast main line railway viaducts in Carlisle.
Data from the UK rail industry shows bank holiday weekend ticket sales to seaside destinations have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
Leaders from across Yorkshire and the North East of England have contributed to a report demonstrating the importance of HS2's Eastern Leg.
Major railway upgrades have now been completed in Manchester as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU).
UK: The Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Office for Rail and Road have developed a Better Value Rail toolkit.
Special rail services have run between Newcastle and Morpeth in advance of the reintroduction of passenger trains on the Northumberland Line.
The track upgrade works at Bristol East Junction have reached their halfway point. Work is scheduled to be completed on 3 September 2021.
Transport for Wales has signed an agreement with Colas Rail UK for the purchase of Pullman Rail Ltd, which operates from its Cardiff depot.
SCS JV has signed the first of two contracts for the production of tunnel segments that will be used to construct HS2’s London tunnels.
Work begins to link the South Wales Metro Control Centre to the rail network ahead of the arrival of the new fleet of metro tram-trains.
In a UK first, on-site 3D reinforced concrete printing will be deployed by HS2's London tunnels contractor SCS JV.
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have developed an algorithm that can cut train delays, allowing services to recover faster.
Hybrid cars built in the Midlands will soon be carried to continental Europe via an eco-locomotive that runs on hydro-treated vegetable oil.
A special event has taken place to mark 20 years of operation by the Voyager and SuperVoyager Intercity fleets.
With the UK’s House of Commons summer recess now underway, the RIA's warning of a summer of uncertainty could now become a reality.
The complete Alstom Pendolino fleet leased by Avanti West Coast is undergoing refurbishment, an investment of 117 million GBP.
Excavation of the vent shaft at Chalfont St Peter has begun in Buckinghamshire. It is the first of five on the HS2 Chiltern tunnels section.
A prototype electrified rail freight terminal is to receive funding from Innovate UK and the Department for Transport.
HS2 designers are set to more than halve the amount of embedded carbon used in one of the high-speed rail project’s viaducts.
A fire at Troon station on 17 July has seriously damaged the station building as well as an overhead power line.
Passengers at Liverpool Lime Street station can now get free, unlimited WiFi that’s fast enough to support video calls and streaming.
The UK government has published its Decarbonising Transport plan, in which it also lays out how it will decarbonise rail by 2050.
GTR is sub-leasing six of its Class 387/2 Gatwick Express trains to GWR to assist with capacity following the cracks found in the Class 800s.
This month Network Rail will connect a new tunnel north of Peterborough to the existing railway as part of the East Coast Upgrade project.
HS2 has begun its search for a team of specialist ground investigation contractors for the western leg of Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester.
High-speed parcel deliveries to city centres will soon be made by converted passenger trains showcases Network Rail and Orion.
Liverpool Street Elizabeth line station has been officially transferred to TfL, providing immediate benefits to passengers at Moorgate.
The Rail Delivery Group is calling on the UK government to introduce policies that will help shift freight from road to rail.
Further weekend closures of the Northern City Line have been confirmed to enable work on the East Coast Digital Programme.
HS2 has launched Cecilia, the second of two 2,000t tunnelling machines that will excavate ten-mile-long tunnels beneath the Chiltern Hills.
The first four Innovia 300 monorail units for the Alstom-led Cairo Monorail project have been completed and in transit to the Egyptian city.
The Woolwich Elizabeth line station has officially been transferred from Crossrail to Transport for London (TfL).
The Scottish government is to provide a further £5.6m emergency funding to Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams in response to the pandemic.
Network Rail lays its first composite railway sleepers across the weight-restricted Sherrington Viaduct between Salisbury and Warminster.
The ORR has published findings showing that train operators kept passengers well informed during the Class 800 cracking issue.
The rolling stock owner and railway asset manager Porterbrook has taken over the Long Marston site, where it will develop a rail innovation centre.
Work begins this July on a major project to improve railway signalling on a key section of the West Coast main line in the UK’s North West.
Permanent works on HS2's Old Oak Common station have got under way today with phase 1 seeing the construction of a 750,000m3 underground box.
HS2 has obtained approval for a scheme that will use excavated material to create new chalk grassland, woodland, wood pasture and wetland.
English commuters are now able to purchase flexible season tickets. These can be used for travel from 28 June.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has extended GTR’s Emergency Recovery Measures Agreement (ERMA) until 31 March 2022.
The ORR has launched the 2023 Periodic Review – the process for determining the funding needed for Britain’s rail network from 2024-2029.
The RDG has warned that a cut in domestic air passenger duty would see thousands of passengers shift from rail to air.
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