Optical Fibres for Condition Monitoring of Railway Infrastructure—Encouraging Data Source or Errant Effort?

Ivan Vidovic, Stefan Marschnig*

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit

Publikation: Beitrag in einer FachzeitschriftReview eines Fachbereichs (Review article)Begutachtung


The condition of railway infrastructure is currently assessed by track recording cars, wayside equipment, onboard monitoring techniques and visual inspections. These data sources deliver valuable information for infrastructure managers on the asset’s condition but are mostly carried out in time-based intervals. This paper examines the potential of fibre optic cables, which are already installed in cable troughs alongside railway tracks, to monitor railway infrastructure conditions. The sensing technique, known as distributed acoustic/vibration sensing (DAS/DVS), relies on the effect of Rayleigh scattering and transforms the optical fibre into an array of “virtual microphones” in the thousands. This sensing method has the ability to be used over long distances and thus provide information about the events taking place in the proximity of the monitored asset in real-time. This study outlines the potential of DAS for the identification of different track conditions and isolated track defects. The results are linked to asset data of the infrastructure manager to identify the root cause of the detected signal anomalies and pattern. A methodology such as this allows for condition-based and component-specific maintenance planning and execution and avoids the installation of additional sensors. DAS can pave the way toward a permanent and holistic assessment of railway tracks.
FachzeitschriftApplied Sciences
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Aug. 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Verkehr
  • Ingenieurwesen (insg.)
  • Instrumentierung
  • Werkstoffwissenschaften (insg.)
  • Fließ- und Transferprozesse von Flüssigkeiten
  • Prozesschemie und -technologie
  • Angewandte Informatik

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems


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