Smart Railway Switches and Crossings


Rail transport accounts for almost 7% of transport demand in the European Union with predicted strong growth figures; latest EU-28 available data shows that there were more than 401B passenger-kilometre journeys completed in 2016. One of the most critical assets of the physical railway infrastructure are the Switches and Crossings (S&Cs); the mechanical installations which are used to guide trains from one track to another. S&Cs are subjected to extremely harsh operating conditions, including severe vertical, horizontal and lateral loading, large temperature variations and a wide range of weather conditions. These harsh operating conditions alongside poor maintenance procedures, exacerbate failure of S&C components. These failures pose major safety risks (increased probability of a derailment). Failures also reduce network capacity, lead to poor customer satisfaction and accrue significant annual costs. The challenge is therefere: how to improve the inspection and maintenance of S&Cs so that the cause of failures can be detected and rectified before they fail in order to improve safety, whilst reducing the number of periodic inspections and services affecting failures to reduce cost, improve customer satisfaction and increase capacity. The solution: Working alongside UK rail partners, and world leading rail-specific university research groups, Smart Component Technologies Ltd (SCT) have developed the Smart S&C Monitor: a first-of-a-kind condition monitoring technology that measures the causes of premature S&C component failures. The Smart S&C Monitor is a wireless sensor node that features an accelerometer array which can measure the shock, vibration and displacement of the S&C when rolling stock passes. Through combining these data streams, the inbuilt algorithms can identify several typical causes of S&C failures, including; wheel flats, overloaded axles, speeding rolling stock, voiding and track stability issues. The sensor data is wirelessly transmitted to a cloud server where it is stored, analysed and visualised. In the cloud, alerts (SMS and/or email) are sent to the infrastructure owners, providing them with an opportunity to address the issue before significant degradation of the asset occurs. This project will develop, demonstrate and commercialise the Smart S&C Monitor for Transport for London (TfL) and High Speed Two (HS2) infrastructure. The key objectives of the project are to; develop the Smart S&C Monitor from TRL7-9, tune the data algorithms to be compatible with all UK rail infrastructures (currently only compatible with NR infrastructure), integrate the data into a cloud repository, to conduct compliance testing to demonstrate that the technology meets rail industry regulations, apply for a trial certificate, conduct operational field trials over 40 S&Cs to achieve Product Acceptance (TfL only) and enact a fully costed schedule of commercialisation activities required for wide scale roll out. Through the completion of this project, SCT will be technology ready and commercially ready to roll-out the Smart S&C Monitor on S&Cs across all the UK rail infrastructure.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Smart Component Technologies Limited, Huddersfield, United Kingdom £315,390 £ 315,390


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