As part of Network Rail’s work in In2Track3 and continuing work from In2Track2 with a low pre-heat process, an innovative automated solution for the Discrete Defect Repair (DDR) is taken forward. The goal was a TRL 7 demonstrator (system prototype demonstration in operational environment), which is now out in track in the heritage rail at Wirksworth, UK. After tests and adjustments, the machine is now fully automated, start to end, and is operated via a tablet.
Network Rail are in the process of proving repairs on 220 and HP grade rails as 260 has been the typical default. They are also planning to perform repairs across 110, 113ib rails and 60kg rails, with various head wear and sidewear rates, to demonstrate the profiling on worn rails. A road rail vehicle delivery mechanism has been tested and will be further developed.
Next steps towards exploitation of the DDR are to implement extended track trial in Network Rail operational track, to demonstrate the performance benefits over Manual Metal Arc and aluminothermic head repairs. Network Rail will also design a version 2 machine and long term delivery systems to minimise lower sector gauge restrictions, and to optimise safety, cost, speed and reliability. Addressing all requirements for the process on the most common sections and grades of rail, including CSM-RA, design for reliability requirements, compare with other repair methods and make a proper business plan for the product.
The metallurgy is proven. The automation is proven. The delivery system is acceptable for the trials but need further optimisation. Long term track performance benefits have to be demonstrated.