Every day, 40,000 trains ride up and down more than 33,000 kilometers of track belonging to the Deutsche Bahn German railroad company. Altogether, they travel one billion kilometers a year. In view of climate protection and the associated growing shift in passenger and freight traffic from road to rail, this annual distance is set to increase still further in the years to come – with the same rail infrastructure.
Therefore, as the load increases, the safety and performance of the rail infrastructure is of the utmost priority. This area is the responsibility of DB Systemtechnik. This company is contracted by DB Netze to monitor the railroad tracks, in order to guarantee their maximum availability and safety. It therefore also makes a valuable contribution to ensuring a strong rail, which is an international issue against the backdrop of climate change. As part of its legal obligation to repair and maintain the rail network, DB Netz AG uses its own measuring trains, such as the RAILab. However, for some time now the rail infrastructure company has been adding new methods to the traditional monitoring process. It now carries out continuous track monitoring using regular trains, equipped with reliable measurement technology from HBK.
The increase in traffic poses a major challenge to the rail network, given that the infrastructure is scarcely growing or is staying the same. In view of this development, DB Netz AG doesn’t have much time for monitoring the infrastructure with inspection vehicles. The shutdown times for repairs are also being reduced.
To supplement its existing inspection systems, DB Systemtechnik GmbH had already equipped a regular train with measurement technology for continuous track monitoring in the early 2000s. The company chose tried and tested, rugged and reliable standard technology from HBK, which autonomously conducts measurements in regular rail traffic safely, reliably, and without the need for personnel.
The measurement technology used in several regular trains for operational and status monitoring is convincing. The quality of the measurement results from regular rail traffic is as good as that from specialist measuring trains and RAILabs. The findings they deliver concerning the status of the monitored infrastructure are a valuable complement to routine inspections. They have enabled considerable improvements overall to track quality.
Example of extensive track systems that need monitoring
Rail inspection is performed by regular trains like the IC 2
DB Systemtechnik GmbH is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG. Since 2011, the company has been providing a wide range of engineering services relating to technical rail operations for the Group and other companies, both in Germany and around the world. DB Systemtechnik’s portfolio includes services in the fields of vehicle technology, infrastructure, maintenance, and construction. To provide these services, among other things the company has its own rail vehicles for measuring and test runs. The rail subsidiary also tests and approves technical solutions it has developed itself.