A Qualitative Comparison of Advantages and Disadvantages of Structural Health Monitoring of Railway Infrastructure over Conventional Inspection Methods

Vallely, Patrick; University of Birmingham; United Kingdom

Vallely, P.; University of Birmingham; United Kingdom
Papaelias, M.; Network Rail Infrastructure Limited; United Kingdom

ID: ECNDT-0278-2018
Download: PDF
Session: Structural Health Monitoring 1
Room: H1
Date: 2018-06-12
Time: 13:50 - 14:10

Passenger and freight rolling stock traffic density has increased considerably in recent years in the majority of rail networks across the world. At the same time travelling speeds and axle loads have also increased putting considerable pressure to maintenance engineers who are tasked with ensuring reliability and safety of railway network operations. Inspection of rail infrastructure using various types of methods and equipment has traditionally been the cornerstone of evaluating the structural integrity of critical structural components such as rails, crossings, tunnels and bridges. However, as traffic density increases further and the likelihood of round the clock railway operations nears closer to realisation, the opportunities for inspection based on conventional approaches are reduced by a significant margin. It is therefore, important to develop alternatives for the evaluation of the structural integrity of critical railway infrastructure assets before the technical challenges currently faced manifest themselves more imperatively. In this paper, a qualitative comparison of the key advantages and disadvantages of structural health monitoring techniques over conventional inspection methods are presented and analysed from an infrastructure manager perspective. The discussion focuses on how realistic is the replacement of conventional inspection methods with structural health monitoring techniques currently and what steps need to be taken before a change in the status quo can occur.