Complex Rail and Track Services
How long have you been inspecting rail quality in Hungary?
– It was only a matter of years after the launch of transportation by rails that it became evident: tracks need perpetual monitoring for both security and financial reasons. Railways set up track inspection services in response. MÁV embarked on piloting a track measurement car under the direction of Oszkár Bereznay in the 1950s, which was in turn designed and manufactured in-house and commissioned in 1955. That justified the formation of an independent central directorate dedicated to mechanical measurements and other inspections along all of MÁV’s lines. Central Superstructure Inspection Office (CSIO) was set up for the purpose in 1959 and was made responsible for mechanical track measurements, as well as comprehensive track monitoring (such as material inspection of rails and superstructure, welding and railway earth structures, etc.), which central unit could perform in an up-to-date and financially sound manner.
Our lines of business cover measurement of track geometry, ultrasonic inspection of rail materials, measurement of rail profile degradation and corrugation, inspection and grading of superstructure materials, as well as the inspection of railway bridges, steel and earth structures.
We have developed our RI-1000 device to measure straightness to detect deformation along the running and guiding surfaces of rails. The unit has no moving parts and utilises the capacitive measurement principle. It helps to measure deformation swiftly and can measure the straightness of insulated bonded joints.
Due to our specialisation, we are in charge of the inspection work not only along the MÁV lines, but also along those of GYSEV and BKV. Furthermore, we have business connections in several neighbouring and farther countries. Our ultrasonic diagnostics train has been inspecting the line network in Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia for over ten years and we have repeatedly performed track geometry measurements for the railway companies of Slovenia, Greece, Bosnia and Croatia. We maintain business relationships with Europe’s major railway operators and take part in researches such as the International Union of Railways (UIC) workshops.
Has your core business changed in the past decade?
– We are much more diversified than we used to be earlier on: the ultrasonic diagnostics train of our rail inspection business unit can track internal rail defects at speeds up to 50 km/h and our recently developed manually controlled small trolley can radiate ultrasound into the rails along six channels in order to spot various cracks. This technology is mainly used along branch lines, station sidetracks and sidings. Our measurement techniques have also changed considerably. We procured our inspection device from Radioavionika, St. Petersburg in 2008 and we plan to replace the engines of the train in a few years’ time. Our rail diagnostics car is fitted with a contactless laser beam device for rail profile measuring which is suited for rail degradation imaging. Our FMK-004 and FMK-007 inspection trains perform track geometry measurements. The former uses traditional technology, but the latter is equipped with contactless and distortion-free laser beam equipment capable of performing the tests required by modern European standards. We have recently purchased two eddy current rail-testing instruments for the detection of micro cracks (HC).
MÁV Central Rail and Track Inspection Ltd. installed a new system for measuring and scoring clearances in spring 2012. What is the purpose of this part of infrastructure?
– Forced to operate profitably and to ensure quality of service, each railway company finds it extremely hard to limit traffic, hence there are benefits associated with diagnostic tools capable of measurements at track speed. Moreover, accuracy and updating are also important aspects. Our new system lives up to these expectations and many others as well. Depending on the speed of measurement, it can also identify obstacles of specific thickness (signals, poles, tunnels, bridge structures, platforms and other structures or vegetation) within the specified measurement range (i.e. +/– 3 m from track axis and 7 m from the top of rail). The new technology offers both mechanical and manual modes. The telemeter is an essential component of the measurement system and can be transferred easily from our FMK-004 to a trolley pushed manually along the track. Our solution utilises the principle of laser-assisted distance measurement: a rotating laser source emits a beam reflected by the target object. The telemeter unit senses these reflections and uses reflection time to determine the distance from the track axis and the height above the top of the rail. The laser works at 100 Hz, i.e. at 100 revolutions per second and the maximum speed of automated measurement is 100 km/h.
Besides the telemeter, the inspection carriage is also fitted with additional lasers and cameras mounted on the bottom to record geometric data (such as the distance between the rails), which are indispensable for charting clearances. Measurements are non-contact and hence are more advanced than traditional methods based on mechanical principles.
Thus, your upgraded diagnostics coach allows you to measure the status of tracks more accurately and to perform more complex data analyses.
– The development allows measurements of track status at lower speeds than earlier and hence gives more detailed data. Besides, the simultaneous application of track geometry and vehicle diagnostics provides findings that are more complex.
Our FMK-007 track-measuring coach was fitted with a combined system to measure track geometry with an optical chord measurement device and an inertial measurement set. The development of the measurement system took into account the latest EU standards and requirements. The system provides the geometric parameters required by the MSZ EN 13848 standard , i.e. distortion-free measurement data in the wavelength bands of D1 (λ=3–25m) and D2 (λ=25–70m), and can also generate distorted data for arbitrary chord arrangements compatible with the earlier measurement principle.
The former vehicle diagnostic solution has been integrated into our new track geometry system allowing us to display and analyse geometric and dynamic parameters simultaneously on measurement diagrams. The upgraded measuring coach facilitates measurements and track status analyses compatible with EU requirements, while the modernised coach is able to detect track defects faster, more efficiently and accurately, which is especially significant for railway safety.
What is the function of your Track Diagnostics Decision Support System?
– Known as PATER, this computer-assisted expert system for diagnosing tracks supports the decisions made by rail operation professionals and track maintenance engineers in their daily work. The expert system provides services in tracking railway infrastructure data (network, organisation, core and other technical data) and in updating the registers of measurement data, in delivering graphics of and analysing the same, in planning track speed and maintenance works, and in documenting sustenance works and eliminated defects.
The programme features client-server arrangement to ensure that the database is accessible from any location and clients with proper credentials can use such information via the internet. As this model allows storing and updating all data items at a single location, users always get the latest data. As the program flexibly manages any number of measurement systems, the companies that use it can keep track of the data of their own systems. Engineering practice suggests that analysis focuses mostly on local errors and general track rating indicators as these data are sufficient for evaluating traffic safety and quality. Actual measurement data and boundary values are recorded for each measurement system. The system uses its integrated mathematical algorithms to suggest work types that need to be performed.•