Monitoring vertical track irregularity from in-service railway vehicles

P. F. Weston, C. S. Ling, C. Roberts, C. J. Goodman, P. Li, R. M. Goodall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


Condition monitoring of track geometry from sensors mounted on an in-service vehicle offers continual monitoring of track geometry that can aid track maintenance strategies. Mounting and maintaining a full track geometry recording system on an in-service vehicle is an expensive proposition as the commonly used optical sensors are difficult to keep working in the dirty railway environment. A simpler and more cost-effective alternative is to estimate track geometry using a small number of robust sensors such as accelerometers and rate gyroscopes, from which a worthwhile proportion of geometric quality measures and specific irregularities can be identified. This paper describes the theory and practical results of using a bogie-mounted pitchrate gyro to obtain mean vertical alignment, conditional on the secondary vertical damper geometry. Left and right axlebox-mounted accelerometers can be added to provide short wave-length irregularity, if required. Results from trials on Tyne and Wear Metro vehicles and on a Class 175 mainline vehicle demonstrate effective vertical irregularity monitoring, in particular the ability to monitor vertical irregularity over a wide range of vehicle speeds down to about  1ms-1, where vertically sensing accelerometers combined with displacement transducers are unable to function correctly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


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