One of the potential issues that public rail transport operators face are accidents relating to their vehicles’ Overhead Line Equipment (OLE). An example of such accidents includes the tangling of the trains’ pantographs with stretches of overhead cables, which could lead to the train becoming inoperative – causing service disruption, significantly affecting passenger satisfaction, and discouraging users from taking the train over other modes of transport.
In order to prevent such accidents from occurring, Incremental Solutions is currently testing an innovative OLE continual monitoring system designed to examine the movement of (and potential obstructions to) the vehicle’s pantograph. The new tool identifies emerging problems with the interface to overhead power cables and allows operators to minimise service disruption caused by irregularities, damage, or failures in the train’s overhead line equipment. The new tool currently monitors variables such as contact force and stagger.
The monitoring solution, which is based on optical recognition algorithms designed by Oxford University and uses an OLE camera configured, installed, and managed by Icomera, is currently deployed on a Great Western Railway (GWR) Bombardier Class 387 EMU fleet on Network Rail’s western route. Icomera’s advanced mobile connectivity platform and Onboard Server provides the monitoring system with an uninterrupted stream of detailed data on the status of the OLE. This data is then analysed to highlight trends and patterns which could indicate potential problems. This allows GWR to detect differences in the signature created, identify where they need to investigate and, if necessary, take remedial action before a failure occurs.
The effectiveness of the OLE continual monitoring solution was recognised at the Rail Partnership Awards in June 2019, winning the Driving Efficiencies Award for its potential to offer significant cost reductions and enhancements to schedule adherence and consistency of service across the UK’s rail network.
Daniel Lee-Bursnall, Incremental Solutions’ Commercial Director, commented: “This ground-breaking collaboration between Incremental, Network Rail, GWR, Icomera and Oxford University really demonstrates our collective credentials within the technology and transport sectors. It is a pleasure to work with like-minded companies to provide an innovative means of generating operational cost savings, providing a better service with better value for money for passengers.”
Peter Kingsland, Icomera’s UK & EIRE Sales Director, said: “Icomera’s reliable and secure connectivity serves to improve passengers’ journeys in more ways than the eye can see. The same Digital Train Network which supports passenger services such as infotainment and onboard Wi-Fi can also be used to provide a powerful processing and data collection platform for operators to prevent disruptions and delays. This project demonstrates the value of investing in high-performance managed connectivity solutions which allow for both passenger and mission-critical operational applications to co-exist securely.”