HS1 to use AR for virtual monitoring of rail assets

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HS1 Ltd is introducing augmented reality technology to monitor assets across the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link it operates from St Pancras to Folkestone.

St Pancras station (Credit: HS1 Ltd)

The company will create a digital twin that will include signalling equipment across the stretch of track, as well as monitor the real-time performance of St Pancras station’s lifts, escalators and travelators.

Sensors will pick up and relay faults back to maintenance teams via a private 5G network, allowing repairs to be carried out more promptly.

The project is funded by Innovate UK, in partnership with PAULEY Group Limited, Network Rail (High Speed) Limited, Athonet UK Limited & the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The Age of the Digital Twin

“At HS1 Ltd we are always looking at ways in which we can improve the UK’s only high-speed rail system,” said CEO Dyan Crowther. “Our innovative approach to technology means we are able to monitor and maintain our assets in a more efficient and sustainable way, leading to an improved customer experience.

“The system will not only create a more reliable rail network but will allow our expert teams to maintain social distancing guidelines when responding to jobs. Thanks to Innovate UK and our partners we are able to lead the way in revolutionising London’s railway stations post-Covid.”

It’s claimed the technology will lessen the impact of disruption to UK railways caused by Covid-19 and, if widely adopted, could improve productivity and cut costs at more than 3000 stations across wider network.

“The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy,” said Dr Ian Campbell, executive chair of Innovate UK.

“The 5G Augmented Reality Digital Twin Project, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development.”