New innovation set to decrease derailments

3rd August 2020

Arc Infrastructure has partnered with Perth-based IT consultancy, Interfuze, to deliver a first of its kind innovation that will allow Arc to predict track washaways caused by flooding and potentially save millions of dollars by preventing derailments, whilst also being adaptable for the wider railway industry.

Managing a rail network consisting of 5,500 kilometres of track across the southern half of Western Australia means our track is exposed to extreme weather events in regional locations. Extreme rainfall has the potential to cause track washaways, where the rail ballast and/or formation is displaced due to rainfall events. While a track washaway is not easy to prevent, Arc has been working on a solution that will help predict washaway occurrences and prevent trains from passing over them.

With no existing product on the market, Arc worked with local IT consultancy, Interfuze, to build a tool that would analyse past washaways and rainfall patterns. By building these relationships, we can then apply this correlation to live rainfall data being collected through a network of rainfall sensors across the state.  This allows us to model not only from rainfall directly across our corridor, but also from overland flows from off-corridor rainfall events.

The prediction tool is currently in post-production, and has shown a reliability of over 90 per cent, with the ability to become more accurate over time. The washaway prediction tool is planned to be rolled out to our Train Controllers in Q3 this year.

This is the first time in Australia that a rail washaway prediction proof of concept has been successfully tested and used operationally via an engine that can learn changing thresholds over time, monitor incoming rainfall, predict at-risk sections and generate alarms as an early warning tool.

Arc Infrastructure CEO Murray Cook said this washaway prediction solution is a major breakthrough for the railway industry, made possible through business leadership and technology innovation in Western Australia. 

“As the only freight rail network in the southern half of Western Australia, our network is vital to providing the major freight connection to the eastern states of Australia and to overseas markets through the region’s government-owned ports.

“Unfortunately, every year this critical infrastructure is damaged through degraded track conditions caused by rainfall that we have never been able to accurately identify and respond to. The innovation that we initiated and developed with Interfuze is not only ground-breaking for the railway industry, but also for other sectors playing a crucial role in the Australian economy, such as the export industry, that rely on our railways to deliver on time and on budget.

“Together with Interfuze, we are proud to be leading this first of its kind solution for Australian railways to help eliminate washaway related train derailments,” Murray said.

Following a period of monitored use, Arc Infrastructure will look to scale the solution across other areas for monitoring and detection alerts. We also plan to work with relevant industry bodies to share the washaway prediction system with rail infrastructure companies nationwide. 

Image: Arc Infrastructure