Checking of pair of wheels mounted on axle in real time

Karel Novak, Published on 16/05/2022
Checking of pair of wheels mounted on axle in real time
networkrail.co.uk

15,000 British locomotives and wagons will be fitted with technology that will improve freight safety.


Defective or worn wheelsets can cause broken rails and damage to wagons if left untreated and can lead to safety issues and delays on the railway for both passenger and freight trains.  This is why the UK rail network operator Network Rail has taken this monitoring approach.

Steve Rhymes, head of network management at Network Rail, comments: “Each freight operator is fitting them to each side of their wagons and locomotives, which means we are harvesting data every time a train or vehicle operates – much of which has not been visible before. It’s a collaborative effort which delivers joint benefit."

The two-year project, part of the Freight Safety Improvement Portfolio’s (FSIP’s) £22m funds, will see 30,000 radio frequency identification (RFID) tags being fitted to both sides of freight locomotives and wagons. When the tagged train passes a reader on the side of the track – at one of 22 sites – information regarding each wheelset is captured. This is then sent to engineers via cloud-based technology to see if any maintenance work is needed.

“Having the ability to identify faults and plan repairs to wheelsets in advance means we can safely remove a wagon from service if needed and avoid unnecessary disruption on the network and to our customers,” Deanne Haseltine, the company’s head of engineering compliance, added.

The scheme has been welcomed by freight operating companies and freight customers. Freightliner Group has already fitted 73 percent of the tags, funded by FSIP, to locomotives and wagons.

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