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TrackSafe:Trackworker Safety

The key objective of this project is to develop an integrated system to greatly reduce the hazards for railway track workers when working on or near operational lines, whilst improving efficiency by integrating into a GIS mapping system. Over 70,000 trackworkers gain access to lines every year without any automated safety system in place. In the UK alone, four workers were killed in the last three years due to a train strike, with many more injured [source: Office of Rail Regulation]. This is particularly relevant for workers close to operational lines (red-zones), where trains can approach at over 100mph, giving very little warning of arrival.  Safe working practice is complicated by dark and confined operating conditions (e.g. in a tunnel) and the use of noisy equipment. The main challenge is that trackworkers often operate in environments where conventional positioning techniques like GPS fail, such as within tunnels, under bridges etc. To overcome this limitation, a novel through-earth positioning technology based on vector magneto-inductive (MI) fields will be developed. One of the key advantages is that MI techniques also allow for bi-directional communication, without requiring a line of sight connection. This allows workers to be alerted (using a combination of audio, vibrating and flashing lights) that a train is approaching, allowing them to retreat to a safe point. In addition, by providing accurate location, workers can more rapidly be directed to the location of a particular asset. This could also lead to improvements in efficiency by monitoring the progress of a particular task, allowing a site supervisor to manage their team more effectively.


Principal Investigator

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