Railway Detection via Optic Fibre Technology

rail industry

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Various security monitoring applications used in the rail industry require individual systems, creating expensive and complex integrations for surveillance centres. Moreover, installations tend to be short-range and handled on a local level, increasing costs and inefficiency. Often, security patrols are required to conduct random checks throughout the network.

An ideal safety and security system for rail networks should address several minimum requirements, including the ability to detect trespassers, guarantees towards employee and passenger safety, as well as the protection of assets and infrastructure, and the improvement of operational efficiency.

A technology being utilized for security in other industries, especially in the oil and gas sectors, can be applied to the railway sector, according to transportsecurityworld.com.

In many cases, there already exists multicore, single-mode fibres that are buried along rail rights-of-way as part of different regions’ telecommunication networks, so it’s often possible to add a fiber optic-based detection system.

Fibre Optic Acoustic Detection (FOAD) technology utilizes a process called Rayleigh Backscatter – when light is pulsed down the fibre, minute reflections can be detected throughout the length of the cable. Changes in these millions of reflections can be evaluated, allowing the system to measure the acoustic vibrations within the physical fibre. In effect, the fibre is transformed into a continuous sensor that works like a string of microphones.

The measured backscatter changes can be translated into acoustic signatures. By developing appropriate algorithms, it is possible to connect these signatures to monitor the movement and condition of rail vehicles and track assets, as well as to provide additional safety and security elements.

Examples of these security applications include: dangerous vehicle or track conditions, trespassers, track worker location, digging, cable tampering, nearby vehicles and railroad structure approaches.

Frauscher Sensor Technology has adapted FOAD for the rail industry with its Frauscher Tracking Solutions FTS platform, which allows continuous surveillance of all events.

Other applications include providing alarm messages via email or SMS, allowing operators to pinpoint security issues and quickly communicate with personnel via mobile devices.