Bespoke technology is helping Greater Anglia reduce delays by spotting potential issues with trees and plants on the railway.
Trees and branches blocking the line or obscuring signals, and falling leaves compressing into a slippery black-ice-like mulch can cause delays and inconvenience to rail passengers.
Greater Anglia is tackling this problem by using video recorded on its trains to see which areas are becoming potentially overgrown – recording main routes between London and Norwich and the whole of the West Anglia Mainline running from London via Cambridge.
The recordings are analysed using railway technology company CrossTech’s Hubble AI technology to highlight areas of problem vegetation.
Maps are then generated showing where issues have been found, allowing Network Rail engineers to pre-emptively tackle the areas before they cause delays, prioritising issues depending on their severity.
The project is a collaboration involving Network Rail, CrossTech and Petards.
Martin Beable, Greater Anglia’s engineering director, said: “The footage from our trains and our collaboration with Network Rail and CrossTech is key in giving an early alert to our colleagues at Network Rail so that any problematic areas where trees or other lineside vegetation are about to obscure anything are quickly picked up.
“We are delighted to be able to support Network Rail in adopting this novel technology because it means fewer delays for our trains and the busy routes we run on our network.”
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “Managing vegetation is hugely important to us. If not managed well, trees and fallen leaves can pose a risk to the safe running of the railway and cause delays to trains.
“This new technology helps our teams quickly pinpoint exactly where lineside vegetation is likely to be an issue, so it can be cut back before it causes delays to passenger services.”
Haydon Bartlett-Tasker, CrossTech’s Managing Director, said: “Hubble was co-created with Network Rail’s delivery units and it is an excellent example of how modern AI technologies and innovation with end-users can increase productivity and help front-line teams manage the infrastructure for the benefit of passengers and freight users.”
Grant Harley, General Manager at Petards Rail, said: “Through collaboration between Petards, CrossTech, Greater Anglia and Network Rail, and this is a great example of how to expand the purpose of Petards’ forward-facing CCTV ‘EyeTrain’ cameras already installed on the fleet. It will help Greater Anglia and Network Rail increase operating efficiency for passengers and freight users and increase safety for track workers.”
Picture credit: Greater Anglia