Wireless sensors to keep high-speed rail fleet on the tracks

1 min read

Fleet availability for Great Western Railway’s high-speed trains will be boosted with the installation of Hitachi Rail’s ‘Perpetuum Onboard’ wireless technology to monitor wheels and bogies.

Hitachi Rail

For the first time, wireless sensors are being attached to live monitor the entire wheelsets and bogies of GWR’s high-speed fleet, allowing real-time data of gearboxes, traction motors, bearings and wheels.

At present, bogie overhaul accounts for about a third of maintenance costs, with trains requiring an average of seven days to carry out manual inspection or component replacement in a depot.

According to Hitachi Rail, digital monitoring of bogies and wheelsets can replace periodic inspections, reducing bogie overhaul downtime by up to 50 per cent. On the GWR fleet of 93 trains, this will deliver over 100 extra days of train availability every year. Across the lifetime of the fleet, this is expected to deliver in excess of 3,100 days of train availability. The sensors also have the additional capability of monitoring the condition of the track and train axles.


Improved data and knowledge of critical components optimises maintenance to ensure train availability remains high as the fleet matures.

Real time monitoring enables immediate and precise identification of parts that require either inspection or maintenance before it can affect passenger service. The ability to pinpoint faults further reduces the time required by maintenance staff the conduct their work.

Angus Thom, group service and maintenance operations director at Hitachi Rail said: "As the rail sector adapts to new challenges, I strongly believe that digital maintenance is a solution that benefits everyone.

“Through collaboration, and Hitachi’s digital solutions, we can deliver real value for money, improve safety, and create new digital skills at our depots.

“What we are doing with GWR, Agility Trains West and Eversholt is an important step towards the UK being a pioneer in digital railways.”