Using the internet of things to monitor low adhesion on railways

Lee Chapman, Elliott Warren, Victoria Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
190 Downloads (Pure)


Adhesion refers to the ‘slipperiness’ of the rails due to surface contaminants such as leaves, rust, oil and grease, exacerbated by small amounts of atmospheric moisture from drizzle, dew or fog. Low adhesion is an issue on the railways because it reduces acceleration and braking efficiency. This leads to platform overruns and Signals Passed at Danger, putting the travelling public at risk as well as contributing significantly to service delays. In response, high resolution forecasting systems have been developed that takes into account site specific leaf fall forecasts, rail and dew-point temperature to estimate the occurrence of dew, frost, light rain and fog. However, in order to validate models, data is required from a high resolution monitoring network that is able to capture observations of rail moisture and leaf fall contamination. This paper investigates the feasibility of harnessing the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) to develop a high resolution, but low cost, rail moisture monitoring network. A low cost, self-contained sensor was developed and tested, with positive results, against existing, more expensive, sensors in both a lab and field setting. The paper concludes with a blueprint documenting an approach to improve the spatial resolution of moisture measurements across the network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-329
JournalInstitution of Civil Engineers. Proceedings. Transport
Issue number5
Early online date19 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Railway Tracks
  • Weather
  • Information Technology


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