PRESSURE to minimise track posession time combined with tighter health and safety security is making it increasingly difficult to carry out inspections on live lines.
One answer could be a high speed track inspection train that will enable multiple users to access and use the information obtained, a recent meeting of the Railway Civil Engineers Association heard.
The development by contractor GTRM, part of the Euroscout GB joint venture with Dutch and German partners, was described by the JV's Dave Ratledge.
A class 121 unit fitted with video cameras and sensors runs along the track at over 100km/h, recording the track condition.
Data on overhead lines, rail geometry, rail surface and sleeper condition is processed on the train and can be downloaded to CD or the internet. This will allow engineers across the industry to access the same information from a central server, vital for an integrated railway, said Ratledge.
A unit capable of travelling at 160km/h is already operating in Germany and the Netherlands.
The unit will be trialed in the UK in May, with results analysed at an office in York by track inspectors within 72 hours.
The system will be used by September in conjunction with traditional walked track inspection with data analysed by existing inspectors.