The high cost of railroad infrastructure maintenance, compared to the relatively low cost and growing capability of systems to assess infrastructure condition, offers significant potential for cost saving through improved data management systems. This paper looks at one company’s experience of systems in Europe and focuses particularly on the commercial value that can be delivered — other company’s systems are of course also available.

Balfour Beatty Rail (BBR) is one of the world’s largest rail engineering and services providers and a significant part of our business involves Asset Management in its broadest sense. BBR’s hands-on experience as a builder and maintainer of railways informs our understanding of what data is helpful to ensure safety and optimize maintenance. Many of our systems have evolved though our own needs in railway maintenance and all are very commercially focused. This paper looks at some of the commercial drivers for these systems and draws on experience from a number of applications in Europe to highlight key areas of benefit.

The paper begins with the high level commercial case for data and its effective use, looking at the opportunity for cost savings in asset management. It then looks at the information required to deliver specific types of benefit. Experience with a new system for London Underground to maximize the use of their limited maintenance windows is described.

The implications of the UK’s penalty regime for train delays is then discussed, showing how it has driven investment in signaling monitoring resulting in reliability and availability improvement.

Condition visibility is an essential prerequisite for effective planning and root cause analysis. For track, subject to many simultaneous degradation modes, location-centered visualisation software is providing users a clearer view of all relevant parameters. By presenting measurements from many different sources to provide a unified view with a location accuracy to within one tie, better targeted and cost-effective maintenance can be undertaken.

Software developed by German subsidiary Schreck-Mieves takes a new approach to data management during visual inspections. Initially developed exclusively for their own use, the system aims to quantify a manual inspection. Information is checked for errors and completeness and recording is ergonomically designed to minimize inspection time. Results are combined into an overall evaluation based on a new KAV® wear margin parameter and can be “rolled up” to cover all or part of the network.

Finally the paper describes how the UK’s 150-year-old infrastructure has necessitated a different approach to gauging to maximize space. Through infrastructure data management systems and a more analytic approach it is possible to undertake calculations that estimate “true” clearances. This frees up available space which can be used to increase vehicle capacity or save money, with a recent example showing savings of up to $35m made over a 150mile route upgrade, reducing the scope or works by up to a third.

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