ProRail is responsible for the railway network in the Netherlands. This includes the railway’s construction, maintenance, management, and safety. The ProRail innovation team is experimenting in their Datalab with new techniques such as AI-based Rail OCR that can help collect data about the track and its users.
“There is train detection on all main tracks in the Netherlands. This is necessary to be able to manage rail traffic and to make capacity analyses. There is no train detection on most of the yards near the ports. The trains there move slowly (40 km per hour) on sight and must stop when they see another train. Traffic control manages the carriers that are using certain parts of the railway yards. Manual records are kept of where trains with hazardous substances run. This method is very time-consuming and cumbersome.”
“To organize this more efficiently and safely, we carried out a test with smart cameras together with supplai in the data lab in Moerdijk to verify the train composition of the incoming and departing trains. Supplai has developed various algorithms for us that register number recognition and type identification of trains. Thanks to AI Rail OCR, we can track trains with hazardous substances from the entrance if we combine this information with smart IoT sensors that register passing axles on the tracks of the yard. This gives us a better view of the use of the railway yard and better manage the capacity. This way we know whether we have room for new carriers, whether tracks need to be added, or whether they are empty, so we can invest smarter.”
“In the Datalab in Botlek, we are working with supplai on another algorithm, namely that measures the brake block thickness of trains, also with a smart camera. It is important to know whether trains meet the requirements and whether we can support manual inspections. Suppose a train has worn brake pads, the wheels can start to overheat and the train has to be pulled over. When you measure the brake pad thickness, you can prevent this. It is also valuable for car owners to know the condition of their vehicles.”
“The quality of the products supplied by supplai is very good. They can switch quickly like to think along with you, and are open and transparent. Working with supplai is very pleasant and we like to do that in our Datalab. With all our suppliers and rail users, ProRail continues innovating for a safe and reliable rail.”
Paul Kootwijk – ProRail
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