Frauscher Tracking Solutions: Distributed Acoustic Sensing

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The following video is an animation of how the Frauscher Tracking Solution FTS works.

The Frauscher Tracking Solution, a Frauscher Sensor Technology product, uses Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS). This technology turns fibre-optic cables into virtual microphones. Operators and rail infrastructure manager can use this to monitor train operations and railway assets.

What is Distributed Acoustic Sensing?

Distributed Acoustic Sensing makes use of a fibre-optic cable that runs along railway lines. An optical unit sends a laser pulse down that cable 2,500 times every second. This is what transforms the fibre into a sensor. Any sound waves that hit the cable cause minute changes to its structure. And this in turn causes changes to how the laser pulse is reflected. This is measurable. Must like we can time how far a storm is away by counting the time difference between when we see lightning and when we hear thunder, we can work out the location of what caused the sound waves by calculating the time between that changed reflection and when the pulse was first sent out.

The result: a single unit can monitor up to 80km of track. The accuracy of FTS is up to 10m along the fibre.

The technology works in conjunction with axle counters and wheel detection systems. These solutions are well-established in the industry. And since Frauscher Sensor Technology makes use of fibre cables that are already in place along railway lines, this solution is both inexpensive and quick to install. Further benefits that keep costs down are that there are no wayside components and that the system requires minimal maintenance.

Applications for Distributed Acoustic Sensing

What are the applications for rail of Distributed Acoustic Sensing?

Train Tracking

DAS can track trains as well as their speed in real time.

Asset Condition Monitoring

As a continuous monitoring system Distributed Acoustic Sensing can monitor the condition of rail as well as rail fastenings. It can further monitor the condition of the track bed and it can detect train defects, in its wheels for example.

Beyond continuous applications it can also detect natural hazards such as rock falls and flash overs.

Safety and Security

The Frauscher Sensor Technology has safety applications for crew who can be made aware of approaching rolling stock.

The FST technology, DAS, also has beneficial security applications. For example, train operators can use it to become aware of trespassers, thieves wishing to steal copper cable, vandalism in general and events such as animals on the line.

To learn more about Frauscher Sensor Technologies, read our Railway-News profile.

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