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06 July 2020 By Trevor Burton, UK RILA® Programme Manager
When the Covid-19 pandemic escalated in mid-March and lockdown was announced, Fugro were already scheduled to undertake measurement runs for High Output Track Renewals using RILA® on predefined train paths and timings. We devised a plan with Network Rail and Freightliner to safely deploy people, resources and services in a new working environment and ensure these valuable surveys could go ahead.

Protecting our people

Fugro’s RILA® train-mounted track surveys provide valuable engineering and asset management Geo-data for Network Rail to optimise track upgrades and maintenance programmes so that trains can run safely and on time. To protect train and Fugro’s RILA® crew members undertaking survey runs during the current pandemic, Covid-19 procedures were essential.

Crew members travelled to the depot in individual cars or vans and maintained social distancing between themselves and other depot staff. During the survey runs, only one RILA® crew member travelled in the locomotive cab, instead of the usual two, and in the opposite cab to the train driver. The second RILA® crew member remained on call at the depot during the survey to provide any assistance. At locations where the engine was pathed to change direction, both the driver and the RILA®crew member wiped down and cleaned all touched surfaces before leaving the cab and swapping ends.

Survey crews were equipped with additional PPE including FFP3 face masks, latex gloves, and cleaning wipes and disinfectant. For the short duration covering the daily mounting and dismounting of the system, where 2 m social distancing was impossible, they used additional Perspex visors for enhanced protection.

Fugro’s RILA system is helping to improve the speed, safety, and sustainability of data collection
Fugro’s RILA® system is helping to improve the speed, safety, and sustainability of data collection

With train services dramatically reduced, we saw an opportunity to capture some of the hard-to-reach areas on the busy Western Route. A solution was agreed with Fugro which meant we could restart RILA® scanning at the end of May.
Chris Stanley, route asset data and analysis manager at Network Rail
Fugro crew wear FFP3 face masks, latex gloves and PPE gear during RILA surveys
Fugro crew wear FFP3 face masks, latex gloves and PPE gear during RILA® surveys

Turning challenges into opportunities

Another challenge of carrying out RILA® surveys during lockdown was that many of the scheduled in-service passenger trains that would have hosted the RILA®unit were cancelled due to the sudden timetable reduction. To overcome this, Network Rail’s Western Route team switched some of the survey runs planned for in-service passenger trains to a dedicated locomotive, all while applying the new Covid-19 procedures for safe working. Thus the reduced passenger timetable, previously a problem, was now an opportunity, as the locomotive could run on the cancelled train paths.

Collaboration between Fugro, Network Rail and Freightliner was key to delivering these RILA® surveys with minimal schedule disruption and Fugro will continue to adapt as the situation unfolds to maintain Network Rail’s essential programme of works and “carry on surveying” as much as possible!

Did you know?

- Fugro's RILA® can survey over 500 miles in one day

- Over 45 % of the UK rail network has been scanned by RILA®

- Fugro's RILA® can be connected to a passenger train in under 2 minutes


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