Remote 3D surveying drives Scottish rail digital twin

A digital twin of Scotland’s rail network is being built using remote 3D surveying technology.

Network Rail has awarded a contract to geological data specialist Fugro to survey Scotland’s entire rail network and provide a holistic gauging database that includes clearance data from the track to lineside structures, platforms, objects, and the train-to-train passing interface.

Fugro’s train-mounted railway infrastructure alignment acquisition (RILA) system removes the need for surveyors to be on or near the track during data collection and thus delivers a health and safety benefit.

The project started at the end of April and will survey approximately 2,750km, spanning 93 different route sections and 638 station platforms. Engineers and asset managers will be able to view simultaneously acquired video and RILA data in a desktop environment served through a web portal that integrates 2D and 3D data to provide a digital twin of the railway corridor.

The twin will enable a range of engineering, asset management and maintenance applications, including track ballast quantity and distribution, earthworks, and vegetation management. It will also support the design of future electrification projects, an important part of the Scottish government’s commitment to decarbonise its rail passenger services by 2035.

Rikkert Wienia, Fugro rail manager for Europe and Africa, said: “We are delighted to contribute to this valuable network resource that supports effective clearance assessment and risk management. Our RILA technology will provide Scotland’s rail network with complete up-to-date asset geo-data to meet their gauging requirements and offer the possibility of using the same data for a range of other engineering and asset management applications.”

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