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Remote monitoring for train maintenance

An essential element in the successful running of a railway is a well-maintained system. Driven by the high importance of rail maintenance modern practices focus on establishing appropriate mechanisms for timely monitoring of railway infrastructure. A European consortium largely representing the railway industry exploited current telecommunications technology for the development of a robust system that allows remote monitoring and diagnostic for train maintenance.

Industrial Technologies

Railways consist of complex mechanical and electrical systems with hundreds of thousands of moving parts. In order to achieve reliable railway services, the equipment must be kept in good working condition with regular maintenance checks. The long lasting viable operation of railways greatly depends on early diagnosis of failures and despite the associated costs, the replacement of failing equipment early in its lifespan can be much more costly than the maintenance required. In addition, instances such as a stalled train may create immediate implications involving, for example, a railway block that can lead to timetable alterations with unmanageable consequences. Urged by these needs a European consortium developed ROMAIN a robust communication system for supporting remote monitoring and maintenance of railways. The consortium exploited a standard train communication network (TCN) which was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for on-board interconnections and Internet protocols (TCP/IP) for off-board interconnections using a GSM radio connection. The system is capable of remotely and accurately monitoring the working status of any on-board device, part or equipment, offering not only on time but real time maintenance. Furthermore, it allows direct access to manufacturer's information providing a valuable supporting tool from/to any train wherever it travels. Taking into account all communication and application requirements, the ROMAIN system may be easily applied in a wide range of key areas such as passenger trains, including locomotives, freight trains and mass-transit (metros and trams). Reliability is the primary ingredient for successful railway operation. Since maintenance is the number one priority to ensure on-going reliability, it is anticipated that the new services, which are introduced with this system will substantially improve European rail performance and competitiveness.

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