Rail maintenance teams across Britain are using new camera technology to help them identify defects on overhead wires.
Following a successful trial, Network Rail has supplied 30 cameras to maintenance delivery units on electrified routes across the country. Engineers can operate the cameras without turning off the power and closing the line, which is a huge time saver.
Staff on routine track patrols attach the camera to the overhead wire, where it is held steady by two stabilising arms on insulated poles. The camera can tilt to view the top and side of the wire. High-resolution images and video are streamed to a portable laptop. Engineers review the condition of the wire and equipment components immediately or analyse the footage later to spot defects and monitor wear. Maintenance can then be scheduled before a failure occurs.
The cameras were developed with Kongsberg Maritime Ltd.
Steve Yianni, Network Rail's director of engineering, says averting one dewirement incident with this new inspection capability would save almost £1.9 million.