Heavy Haul and Freight


Heavy haul operations are increasingly carried out on dedicated track lines only for freight use. The speed of vehicles is limited to around 100 kmph and mostly wood sleepers and ballasted track are used to accommodate the heavy loads. The risk of train derailment is a primary concern because of poor ballast stability, rotting and broken sleepers, missing or loose fastenings, poor track geometry under load conditions, rail fractures, heavy corrugation and joint damage on fishplates. The typical load at any point on the track during vehicle passage is much higher in heavy haul networks than other types of railways, which significantly stresses the rail and fastenings. Extreme weather conditions accelerate the rate of deterioration of track components. Given the long length of vehicles, and often long periods of stationary vehicles, specific track segments can experience significant vertical forces that must be adequately distributed in the ground; therefore ground stability diagnostics with ground penetrating radar is also important in addition of track geometry, rail wear, and visual defect diagnostics. Heavy haul networks often traverse through remote parts of a country making it impossible to perform regular track walks or use portable diagnostic equipment throughout the length of the track, i.e. diagnostic automation is very important. Rail-wheel interaction on heavy haul networks is one of the single most important diagnostic that correlates track quality with amount of load exerted on it through wheel contact.

RV Diagnostics

Rail Vision has detailed experience of working with heavy haul networks in North America where its systems inspected track from 3 major Class 1 railroads. The main focus of previous systems has been sleeper(tie) grading and detection of critical rail and fastening defects. The grading is performed based on set rules set by customers and this uses a number of diagnostic measurements, e.g. in the case of concrete sleepers, details of the length, thickness, number of cracks, and in the case of wood sleepers, the size of sleeper breaks and whether these breaks extend end-to-end or not, plate movements, presence of wheel cuts and wood condition (e.g. rotten). Given the low train speeds, inspections can be performed at imaging resolutions of around 0.25mm per pixel generating very high quality images as shown below where early propagation of sleeper and rail cracks can be detected and measured as shown below. We provide a combined measurement approach to geometry, rail wear, visual defects, vehicle dynamics and rail-wheel interface analysis using a single piece of equipment, TrackVue Z series.

RV Advantage

The main advantage of using Rail Vision products for heavy haul railways includes:

  • We have extensive experience of working on Heavy Haul freight networks in North America. We bring a wealth of experience from these operations having installed diagnostic systems on maintenance/ hyrail vehicles.
  • We have graded more than 100,000 kms of sleepers for various customers giving us detailed expertise in this area.
  • All of our future systems can be operated remotely and are therefore invisible to the train driver and passengers
  • Our rail wheel interaction measurements are unique, urgently required and ideally suited to such networks.
  • We are able to pull together data from multiple sensors to explain the root cause of problems, and even combine with external data sources such as Ultrasonic measurements coupled with a range of data post-processing tools and services for predictive maintenance.
  • We offer cloud based data management services to reduce IT burden on customer organisation