Yarra Trams Enhances Network Efficiency with Rail Pit Monitoring

Rail Pit Monitoring

The Need

Keolis Downer, operator of Yarra Trams, operates over 250 km of double track, making it the largest tram network in the world. There are over 600 sets of switch points in the network that allow trams to change tracks and direction. The network faces a significant challenge in the ongoing maintenance of these switch point pits with the accumulation of sand and debris, which can result in prolonged inundation of water.

Approximately 250 tonnes of sand is used across the network each month to assist with tram braking and ensure trams can safely stop in all conditions. Their fleet of track sweepers collects about 150 tonnes of sand from the mainline each month, however a significant amount of sand still ends up in the switch point pits, sometimes resulting in partially or fully obstructed drains.

When there is significant rainfall, clogging within the pits can cause flooding on the tracks and mechanical breakdowns. This not only disrupts service delivery, but also poses potential safety risks, such as trams being directed the wrong way or being sent through deep standing water.

Yarra Trams sought a solution that would allow for them to better monitor when switch point pits are not draining adequately, allowing them to proactively manage and maintain their network.

The Solution

Yarra Trams deployed the Captis Pulse Lite and the Captis Pit Monitoring Accessory Kit in both manual and automated switch point pits across Melbourne, with the aim to establish a notification system that alerts when a switch point pit is a threat of overflowing or has failed to drain and is overflowing. This tiered alert system allows Yarra Trams to effectively implement workflows based on ‘Watch and Wait’ or ‘Act now’ alarms driven by the Captis device. 

By receiving real-time notifications, Yarra Trams can react promptly to address an overflow through maintenance call outs, reducing the number of overflows and interruptions to the fleet, while also improving operational efficiencies.  

A Captis device that has alerted when the water in the switch point pit has failed to drain.

The Captis devices enable Yarra Trams to plan for post-rainfall recovery activities more effectively, by identifying pits that have potential of silt, sand or debris build up and proactively allocate resources to better maintain identified problem areas. 

The data also allows Yarra Trams to gain insights into the drainage system itself through monitoring the time required for drains to empty. This data can help identify potential issues, such as clogging and design deficiencies, which may contribute to frequent blockages and overflows. By understanding these problems, Yarra Trams can make informed decisions to improve the drainage system, resulting in a more efficient and reliable network. 

Overall, the deployment of IoT devices and the establishment of a notification system for drain overflow events will have a significant impact on Yarra Trams operations. It will reduce overall delay incidents, minimize safety risks, and optimize the allocation of resources by enabling a shift towards proactive and corrective activities.

Download the Rail Temperature Monitoring Case Study or watch the video below to see how Keolis Downer has used IoT across the Yarra Trams network to improve efficiencies. 

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