Indonesian and Australian researchers are working to improve rail safety and efficiency through computer models that predict how railcars will respond to different track conditions.
The researchers have created a successful model for passenger carriages and are developing models for freight trains.
“For railways, it’s standard practice to measure the conditions of the track periodically,” Monash University Institute of Railway Technology research engineer Dr Nithurshan Nadarajah said.
“However, the influence of a track’s condition on the vehicle isn’t fully understood. So the thresholds for when to intervene with maintenance aren’t comprehensive, or optimised.
“Lots of relevant data is helping our computer algorithm learn about the relationship between track conditions, running speeds, and the response of a moving train under these conditions.”
He said the work would help operators predict the response of different wagons and identify maintenance requirements.
The researchers are also hoping the models could be used to predict optimal running speeds based on the track condition and vehicle characteristics, but that work is yet to be validated.
The project is using data collected by a real-time monitoring railcar—utilising the Instrumented Revenue Vehicle Technology (IRV) developed by the Institute of Railway Technology.
It involves The Australia-Indonesia Centre’s Infrastructure Cluster with the support of the Government of East Java, PT Kereta Api Indonesia (the national rail company), Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate, the Lamong Bay Terminal container port, the Australian Rail Track Corporation, Public Transport Victoria, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, the Institute of Railway Technology, and Monash University.