Acceleration sensor technology for rail track asset condition monitoring

Klaus Känsälä, Seppo Rantala, Osmo Kauppila, Pekka Leviäkangas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the rail traffic industry, the utilisation of inexpensive real-time sensors and the industrial internet of things for proactive asset management is a relatively new concept with great potential. As railways are one of the longest-lasting infrastructure assets, even marginal efficiency and cost gains have a significant impact on the life-cycle cost. This paper shows how wireless three-dimensional acceleration sensor technology can be applied to monitor track condition. The data collection was carried out in October 2016 on a railway line operated by Finnish Railways. In the test, a sensor was attached to a train unit and the acceleration of the train on a track segment was repeatedly measured at variable speeds. The collected data set was enhanced using map-matching and Bayesian filtering in order to improve the Global Positioning System location accuracy of the data. The filtered acceleration signals were analysed, and detected anomalies were compared against known parameters such as bridges and switches. The results of the testing support the feasibility of the concept. Finally, the implications of the concept regarding proactive asset management of track networks and statistical process control-based monitoring of tracks’ condition are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers: Management, Procurement and Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Information technology/maintenance & inspection/railway systems

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