Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SAFE-RAIL — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506218
Funded under: FP6-SUSTDEV
Country: Italy

Underground-reaching radar improves rail safety

A sophisticated radar and antenna system has proven successful in monitoring rail tracks, increasing safety and reducing downtime for trains.
Underground-reaching radar improves rail safety
Accurate rail safety in today's high-speed trains cannot be monitored by man alone and requires cutting-edge systems to achieve the task. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) systems are increasingly being used to monitor crucial substructure conditions and geological aspects under the railways.

The EU-funded project 'Development of an innovative ground penetrating radar system for fast and efficient monitoring of rail track substructure conditions' (SAFE-RAIL) developed a highly advanced GPR solution to further rail safety. The system prototype assessed hidden and inaccessible substructure conditions quickly and accurately providing an evaluation of rail-track substructure conditions. It was found to improve risk management and accident prevention while optimising construction and maintenance.

The new onboard diagnostic system interpreted data and provided early warming against possible critical failures by localising deterioration in the rail-track ballast, sub-ballast and sub-grade.

The project achieved its aims by identifying the needs of rail-track owners and maintenance engineers. It then outlined system specifications and design, testing and validating the different subsystems involved. Once the prototype was ready the project team tested it in real life situations in collaboration with end users.

The resulting system comprises fast substructure array radar (FSAR) based on innovative antenna array (ANTS) and high performance radar control unit (HPRCU) supporting train speeds over 300 km/h. It also features a rail-track positioning unit (RTPU) and onboard processor (OBP) for real time GPR data interpretation.

The SAFE-RAIL prototype proved to be very capable in data acquisition, data interpretation and data processing. The project fully succeeded in devising an innovative GPR system that was cost efficient and reduced downtime. The operationally validated system prototype is set to feature on Europe's trains and make transport safer and more efficient.

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