Track monitor

A sensor system designed to monitor the condition of bogies will detect rail breaks and warn train drivers if one of their coaches has derailed, according to its European developers.

The BoMo system, developed by Swedish bearing specialist SKF and Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Secheron, continuously monitors condition and performance of bogies and wheels.

International rail regulations are increasingly calling for both trackside and on-board monitoring systems, said John Skiller, SKF projects manager. The EU directive 96/48 calls for continuous on-board monitoring to detect train instability and derailment.

The monitoring system consists of temperature, vibration and contactless speed sensors, which can be used to judge the condition of the axle bearings and wheels, he said. ‘The system improves safety, efficiency and reliability.’

The device automatically stores and updates information on the condition of each wheel during the journey, alerting maintenance crews to any problems. Continuous monitoring also means BoMo can alert staff to problems with the track, such as a broken rail, while the system can immediately detect a derailment.

The processor captures information from the sensors and uses algorithms to analyse the data. Serious fault warnings can be routed directly to the train control system, which alerts the driver.

The team has trialled the system in Switzerland, where wheels suffering from irregular wear were monitored over several months. A passenger coach was also run over simulated sleeper-like obstacles as well as with a derailed wheelset, and the system was able to detect the derailment and send out a signal within a few seconds, said Skiller.

The monitor would pay for itself over a vehicle’s lifetime, claimed Skiller. The system can be fitted to existing trains, and the companies are also considering leasing it to operators with short-term contracts, who might be reluctant to buy it outright, he said.

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