Using artificial intelligence to create a better railway

Using artificial intelligence to create a better railway

Published 22 December 2023 | Average read time
3 min read
Stories Industry-leading

We’re using artificial intelligence to proactively find and repair faults along the railway – before they impact your journeys.

Smart tech

We’ve been developing and using a new web application called Insight, which helps us plan and prioritise maintenance repair work and avoid delays to your journeys and freight. 

Data from measurement trains, track images and remote condition monitoring all feed into Insight to create one ‘big picture’ of the railway. Insight uses this data alongside artificial intelligence to predict and warn our maintenance teams when a fault is likely to happen. This warning can be given 28 days, 90 days or even a year before the fault is expected to occur.

A more reliable railway

Thanks to this new tech, our maintenance and repair work is moving towards a ‘predict and prevent’ approach rather than a reactive one. We can now pre-emptively plan and fix issues before they affect the railway and your journeys.

Figures from 2019 to 2023 show that on average, track issues result in 341 days of delays a year. Insight helps to reduce this by presenting our maintenance teams with easy-to-understand data to fix faults before they impact you or freight. 

Ashley Brown, an assistant track maintenance engineer at Network Rail, said it gives “us the ability to put passengers first”. 

A safer way of working

Using Insight helps our front line teams understand the railway and its assets right from their desk, only going to the site where necessary. This helps keep our colleagues even more safe and manage our work even more efficiently.

Martin Mason, a research and development programme manager at Network Rail, describes the tech as “revolutionary”. He said: “For engineers, it means a slicker, quicker way of working.”

Insight helps us lower risk, save money, extend asset life, and reduce disruptions to your journeys. And it’s just one way we’re using innovation to improve your railway.

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