Digital twin aided sustainability-based lifecycle management for railway turnout systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
2211 Downloads (Pure)


Railway turnouts or so-called ‘switches and crossings’ are complex systems by nature of design and construction. Railway turnouts are used to change direction of trains from one to another. They require high-quality construction and maintenance, in order to minimise rapid degradation and component failures that could result in train derailments. Due to the complexity of railway turnouts, the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance can be improved by integrating existing practice by Building Information Modelling (BIM). This research establishes and analyses the world-first 6D BIM for life cycle management of a railway turnout system. The BIM (Level 3) has integrated 6-dimensions of field data information based on Revit-2018 and Navisworks-2018 platforms. The digital twins of a railway turnout in 3D embrace time schedule, costs and sustainability across the whole life cycle. The use of BIM for railway turnout systems has the potential to improve the overall information flow of the turnout planning and design, manufacturing pre-assembly and logistic, construction and installation, operation and management and demolition, thereby achieving better project performance and quality. Based on integrated information of railway turnout system, the 6D BIM has the ability to assess on economic, management and sustainability, and achieve a balance among them. This is the word first to demonstrate that BIM can fully deliver its essential benefits by information sharing, easing technical communication, improving design quality, reducing of design errors, accelerating implementation, speeding up work, shortening construction duration, reducing construction costs, enhancing carbon efficiency, supporting project management, and providing its owners with higher operational efficiency over the railway turnout system life-cycle. The results reveal that embodied material emission is the main contributor towards carbon footprint, especially produced during the manufacturing stage. The reconstruction stage contributes the most expensive phase of life cycle. The insight will significantly benefit the co-value creation among engineers, project managers, technicians, and senior management team.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1551
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019


  • BIM
  • 6D
  • Digital twin
  • Turnout
  • Level 3 model
  • IS
  • Schedule
  • Costs
  • Carbon
  • Life-cycle


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital twin aided sustainability-based lifecycle management for railway turnout systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this