DELAYS CAUSED BY "BRIDGE BASHES" ARE SOON TO BE CUT
Delays to rail
passengers caused by road users crashing into railway bridges are
soon to be reduced with the introduction of bridge monitoring
technology launched by Railtrack North West.
Six trial mobile digital cameras costing £6,000 each have been
developed in an attempt to shorten the response time to bridge bash
incidents. These cameras act as roving eyes for Railtrack's
operational control centre.
Once a struck bridge has been reported, the nearest member of staff
will attend the scene armed with a digital camera. Using a remote
video link, images of the accident will be transmitted to Railtrack
control where experts can assess the damage.
The main benefit of the equipment is that it saves valuable time. It
allows workers who are closer to an incident than a qualified bridge
engineer to attend. With the use of the linked camera, the experts
can then view and assess the damage of the bridge without travelling
to the incident. If the engineer needs to look at a particular part
of the bridge, he can tell the camera operator where to point the
camera via the voice link. Problems are corrected more quickly and
delays to rail passengers are kept to a minimum.
This new technology introduced by Railtrack has proved very
effective in trials, but is not the first measure it has taken in an
attempt to decrease response time. A system known as "BridgeGuard",
developed by Oldham based Ferranti Technologies Limited is also
being implemented. This scheme consists of a number of sensors
attached to bridges within the north west, each system costing
around £35,000. When a vehicle strikes a bridge the sensors detect
the fault and notify the bridge maintenance engineers of the impact
and its intensity. "BridgeGuard" has been
shadowing normal "bridge bash" procedures for three years,
but due to its success and reliability it is due to run
independently by the end of this month.
Every year hundreds of railway bridges are hit by vehicles. This
causes delays to trains, obstructs the road and in some instances
seriously damages the bridge. Within the last twelve months 248
bridges have been struck within the north west, causing a total of
33,434 minutes delay to trains.
The use of the bridge monitoring equipment will ensure the response
to such incidents is dramatically reduced, therefore guaranteeing
fewer delays for rail passengers.