Network Rail – On Track to a Remote Conditioned Future
The city of Liverpool is served by its own underground system that is operated by Serco Ned under the name of Merseyrail. Network Rail owns and maintains the operational infrastructure comprising track, signalling, power distribution and plant assets. The particular environment that is at the centre of the system (underground and inaccessible) was an ideal proving ground to install a Remote Condition Monitoring system. Early warning of failure and the switching of various pieces of plant by remote control has allowed significant improvements to safety and operational performance of the rail network. Network Rail selected products from Wonderware for their new system in conjunction with Cougar Automation to undertake system design and development.
The network serving the Liverpool area spreads over 75 route miles and has 67 stations, with five stations being underground at the centre of the system in the city centre. There is also a rail tunnel that goes under the River Mersey to service Chester and Ellesmere Port, the tunnel being constructed in 1886. The system is vital to this busy commuting centre where 30 million passenger journeys are completed per annum. Network Rail is organised into routes and the Liverpool area falls within the London North Western route, the infrastructure that they are responsible for extending from Crewe through to Weaver junction south of Warrington. Parts of the underground system in Liverpool are over 100 years old, and “modern” monitoring techniques have been deployed over the last 20 years that would give some warning of imminent plant failure and switch on alternative systems, these were in the main isolated systems and had resemblance to early building automation.