Virtual Reality and real-time monitoring by sensors constructed into HS2’s infrastructure comprising rails, bridges, and overhead power lines is going to assist in making Britain’s new high-speed rail network one of the world’s most reliable railways.
Detailed designs being arranged by engineers working on Britain’s new high-speed rail network are being developed using advanced computer design programs. The data created is going to both inform building of HS2 and construct the railway’s digital twin, a virtual reality 3D replica that is going to be as detailed as the real thing.
During HS2’s building thousands of remote condition monitoring sensors, like those used in Formula One and aviation, is going to be constructed into the physical line’s infrastructure as if it were the railway’s version of the body’s nervous system. These sensors are going to monitor the performance of the railway’s advantages and components to anticipate and prevent failure, assisting to underpin the line’s reliability and ultimately the punctuality of its passenger services.
Taking live data on the health of its infrastructure from thousands of sensors across the route and constructing it into HS2’s digital twin has made Britain’s new high-speed rail network in complete virtual form.
The information that sensors onboard the high-speed trains collect is going to be transmitted directly to HS2’s Birmingham-based NICC (Network Integrated Control Centre) at Washwood Heath.
Engineers and maintenance teams will analyze information with the use of AI to monitor asset performance trends across the network. A downward trend in asset performance will trigger HS2’s predict-and-prevent maintenance program.
However, before going out on site, engineers are going to use virtual reality headsets to investigate problems from the safety of the NICC. The technology will allow maintenance teams to understand challenges and, in some cases, resolve them without even having to physically go out on location.
The advantage of operating a “predict and prevent” system on HS2 will allow parts to be repaired and replaced when the asset tells us – rather than relying on a rolling program of maintenance and renewals.
David White, the Head of Strategic Planning and Asset Management asserted: “With HS2’s digital twin-based predict and prevent approach to maintenance we have the ability to prevent failures and replace assets when the system indicates a decline in performance – as opposed to relying on a rolling program of asset replacement.
He also added: “Harnessing the power of the digital twin and its predictive capability could see an asset’s operational life extended by months or even years. This will enable us to reduce cost, cut waste and shrink the environmental footprint of HS2’s maintenance operation and maintain a consistently high level of customer service.”
Even without its digital twin-based maintenance operation HS2 will be one of the most reliable railways in the world, so much so that virtual reality technology has an essential role to play in keeping teams familiar with the railway.
David mentioned: “HS2 will be very safe and reliable, not least because it will be new and built to the latest standards. This in itself creates the challenge of keeping staff trained and competent to run and maintain both the railway and its stations. So we will create new tools through the use of virtual and Augmented Reality technologies to maintain and enhance the skills of our maintenance and station teams.”