Perspectives on railway track geometry condition monitoring from in-service railway vehicles

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This paper presents a view of the current state of monitoring track geometry condition from in-service vehicles. It considers technology used to provide condition monitoring; some issues of processing and the determination of location; how things have evolved over the past decade; and what is being, or could/should be done in future research. Monitoring railway track geometry from an in-service vehicle is an attractive proposition that has become a reality in the past decade. However, this is only the beginning. Seeing the same track over and over again provides an opportunity for observing track geometry degradation that can potentially be used to inform maintenance decisions. Furthermore, it is possible to extend the use of track condition information to identify if maintenance is effective, and to monitor the degradation of individual faults such as dipped joints. There are full unattended track geometry measurement systems running on in-service vehicles in the UK and elsewhere around the world, feeding their geometry measurements into large databases. These data can be retrieved, but little is currently done with the data other than the generation of reports of track geometry that exceeds predefined thresholds. There are examples of simpler systems that measure some track geometry parameters more or less directly and accurately, but forego parameters such as gauge. Additionally, there are experimental systems that use mathematics and models to infer track geometry using data from sensors placed on an in-service vehicle. Finally, there are systems that do not claim to measure track geometry, but monitor some other quantity such as ride quality or bogie acceleration to infer poor track geometry without explicitly measuring it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1091
JournalVehicle System Dynamics
Issue number7
Early online date30 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015


  • condition monitoring
  • track geometry
  • fault detection
  • fault diagnosis
  • maintenance


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