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Software could cut overhead line damage caused by track movement

Network Rail is carrying out a software upgrade which could cut the risk of costly and disruptive overhead wire damage, according to a technology expert.

Bentley Systems rail solutions executive Andrew Smith said the upgrade is the next phase of the Linear Asset Decision Support programme.

The system - which includes elements from various software providers, including Bentley - is used by Network Rail to manage track maintenance.

It will soon be updated to include data from overhead and conductor lines, which Smith said would help engineers tackle one cause of rail traffic disruption.
“Network Rail will have all the track information and the overhead line maintenance records in the same place, which means track engineers will have access to identify whether they are within a tolerance of the maximum stagger of the overhead line,” he said.

This will help ensure minor changes to track position don’t leave trains at risk of pulling down overhead lines following maintenance.

Having software to analyse data is critical to turning it into useful information, Smith said.

“Information is only data that is in a form that can be acted on,” he said.

Smith added that rail clients were increasingly interested in software that can analyse data.

“There is a trend towards less tolerance of overruns and failure on the railway,” he said.

“We are also trying to minimise risk. If you can ensure that the only time you send engineers on to sites is to do work that needs doing then you are minimising the cost and the safety risk as well as network downtime.”

Smith was talking at Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure 2015 event in London this week.

Meanwhile a Bentley Systems software programme that generates detailed “reality meshes” using photographs taken with any digital camera was hailed as revolutionary.

The software stitches together photos to produce highly detailed 3D models that can be used to create “fly through” videos. The photo-textured, geographically located 3D model can be detailed to millimetre accuracy.

The software was used by digital aerial mapping specialists Aerometrex to produce a 3D map of the city of Philadelphia in preparation for the Pope’s visit to the US city in late September.

Aerometrex technical director David Byrne said: “With Context Capture, we’re able to automatically construct highly detailed 3D models of virtually any size for our clients, faster and at much less cost than with traditional methods.

“But what’s most powerful is the amazing context that it provides to facilitate better decisions throughout design, construction, and operations.

“We think ContextCapture is going to revolutionise the geospatial industry.”

  • Watch the Aerometrex Philadelphia flythrough video here

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