For a well-functioning transportation system, railway infrastructure maintenance is crucial. Several different activities are involved in maintenance work, which requires considerable resources and money. European countries spend an average of 70 000 EUR per km on maintenance and renewals of the railway system. As these activities are mutually exclusive, determining how to assign maintenance work slots and train operation paths is inherently problematic. In high traffic density lines, particularly when network maintenance needs and traffic demands are increasing, this planning conflict becomes critical. Although maintenance problems, including; the high volume of maintenance demand, the interaction between maintenance, traffic, and organizing are vital, field researchers have focused more on the train operation problems rather than the infrastructure.
Below, you can see the headlines of this article:
- What are the activities involved in the maintenance of railway infrastructure?
- Railway Maintenance Equipment
- Railway Infrastructure Maintenance Challenges
- Big data in the maintenance of railway infrastructure
What are the activities involved in the maintenance of railway infrastructure?
Generally, railway infrastructure maintenance involves two types of activities:
1- routine or ordinary maintenance, such as regular inspections and minor repairs.
2- Major maintenance and renewal activities, such as rail grinding and ballast tamping.
In this article, we will discuss the second category, which is; major maintenance and renewal activities. Maintaining railway tracks means inspecting, repairing, and maintaining them so that trains can run smoothly and safely. For a railway track to have a long service life, it must be properly maintained and kept in proper working order. When a railway is viable, it will survive for a long time. In contrast, if it is not maintained, it will be damaged. Below are the main types of maintenance:
1- Rail grinding: This involves grinding machines traveling along the rail using grinding stones that rotate or oscillate longitudinally to abrade the rail surface. The purpose of rail grinding is to correct the rail's corrugations, fatigue, and metal flow as well as to reprofile the rail.
2- Rail replacement:Typically, this is done to upgrade the track to a higher gauge rail or to replace an existing rail that has deteriorated due to wear or derailment damage.
3- Tamping: The purpose of this is to correct the longitudinal profile, cross-level, and alignment of the track. By inserting vibrating tamping tines into the ballast, sleepers are lifted to the correct level at a time.
4- Track stabilization: Vibratory track stabilizers control settlement by vibrating the track horizontally with a vertical load. Ballast under sleepers can be compacted and tamped to decrease lateral resistance. The lateral resistance can be restored to its original level with track stabilization.
5- Ballast injection: Stone blowing or ballast injection can be used to correct the longitudinal profile. As a result of this method, the existing compact ballast bed is not disturbed, while additional stones are placed over the surface.
6- Sleeper replacement: It is impossible to remedy almost all sleeper defects, and the sleeper must be replaced. A defective sleeper can cause the rail to lose the correct gauge, resulting in rolling stock derailments.
Railway Maintenance Equipment
Railway infrastructure maintenance requires a variety of equipment. Maintenance of way (MOW) equipment comes in a variety of sizes and powers depending on the type of railway and the amount of work required. In the following, we will introduce some of these pieces of equipment:
1- Ballast Regulator:
In rail transport, a ballast regulator (also known as a ballast spreader or ballast sweeper) shapes and distributes the gravel track ballast that supports the rail tie. In track maintenance, they are often used with ballast tampers. Railroads also use ballast regulators to plow snow, remove vegetation from right-of-ways, and dig ditches with these versatile machines. These ballast regulators have different types that you can see in our products.
2- Road Rail Loader:
The railroad loader is used to build and maintain railroad lines. Various accessories can be installed on the machines, such as rail pinchers, hydraulic or mechanical frame beams to lift sleepers, tamping units, pinchers of varying sizes, hydraulic hammers, and hydraulic bush grass cutters.
Railroad Loaders are made of strong electro-welded steel and are outfitted with hydraulic systems made with high-quality components. These Road Rail Loaders have different types that you can see in our products.
3- Rails Loader Crane:
A rails loader crane loads and unloads rails from wagons. This machine is composed of a telescopic arm that is equipped with a hydraulic winch and mounted on a slewing bearing that connects it to the crane's basement. The cranes can handle a rail of any length or weight simultaneously since they are synchronized. For more information, please visit our product.
4- Sleeper Gantry:
In the construction or renewal of railway lines, sleepers are handled and transported by sleeper gantries (sleeper lifting). Through a special framework, the Gantry can catch and transport the upgraded sleepers on the laying/renewal train and reload the sold sleepers on the wagons. For more information, please visit our product.
This part of the article addressed some of the railway maintenance equipment. There are many other types of equipment that you can view in detail on the ADOR's products page.
Railway Infrastructure Maintenance Challenges
It is imperative that organizations that deal with moving machines prepare and plan for routine maintenance procedures. A proper mechanism should be developed to prevent unpredictable breakdowns from occurring. Having a fully functional supply chain in the rail and railway industries is essential. Thus, rail inspection and maintenance are crucial to maintaining track records and success. Six rail maintenance problems are listed below:
1- Schedule Planning
2- Climate Change
4- Track Inspection
5- The Lack of Innovation
6- Procurement Issues
Each of these challenges has detailed explanations, and different solutions have been provided to overcome them, which we will discuss in detail in other articles.
Big data in the maintenance of railway infrastructure
Currently, some companies collect daily data while trains are running, using sensors attached to the railcars. Improving transport quality and carrying out high-quality maintenance embodied in the smart maintenance approach, will fundamentally transform railway maintenance.
Japan is trialing a smart maintenance system on the Yamanote Line known as CBM, or Condition Based Maintenance, which uses the Internet of Things (IOT) technology to enable the high-frequency collection and analysis of equipment and railcar status data. It helps identify equipment weaknesses, forecast railcar failures, and efficiently carry out repairs to make safe, reliable railway operation possible. This approach enables railway companies to provide safe, consistent rail service more efficiently.
If you want to know more about the application of big data in the railway industry, we suggest you read the article "Big Data is Changing the Railway Industry".
With the development of the railway industry around the world, the importance of railway infrastructure maintenance is increasing day by day. The maintenance of the infrastructure of the railway industry consumes a lot of money and resources every year. Railway maintenance has many challenges, and much equipment is involved in this process. In this article, we discussed all the mentioned topics.
ADOR Tech, with the help of its international partners, offers a full range of Railway Vehicles Products and services. For more information, please contact us.