Test & Measurement

Test tools keep railway maintenance teams on track

8th September 2016
Mick Elliott

Railway Tool Boxes are a collection of instruments which, says Microlease, take the guesswork out of ensuring teams always have the correct electrical and electronic test gear to complete their tasks. They simplify access to the essential equipment needed to manage and maintain the multitude of electrical, electronic and communications systems used on today’s railway.

The Tool Boxes can be applied to a wide range of systems, including signalling, communications, passenger services such as Wi-Fi in trains and stations, trackside surveillance, and self-service ticket machines.

Configured by Microlease experts who understand the challenges of the railway business and environment, the Tool Boxes shortcut the test-equipment procurement process and give flexibility to tailor the equipment list to meet individual requirements.

Microlease can provide a wide variety of equipment for testing items such as fibre installations, copper cables, control units, electrical actuators and drives, pumps, relays, and wireless equipment, which are used extensively throughout rail networks beside tracks as well as in stations, offices and depots, public areas, and on rolling stock.

Monitoring and managing the use of power is integral to the safe and economical operation of the railway. The Fluke 435 and Dranetz HDPQ to meet the special demands of the rail industry and enable installers to verify the power consumption of installed units, assess power quality, and troubleshoot interference coupled on power lines.

The Tool Boxes also include equipment to help ensure the health of copper cabling throughout rail signalling, communication, CCTV and telecom infrastructures. These include the Megger TDR-2000 for testing connection integrity and pinpointing faults, and the RadioDetection RD-8000 for locating cables that may be hidden underground, or in cavities or walls.  For access work on copper access networks the Aten ACT6000 Advanced Communication Tester, covers all current DSL technologies as well as legacy protocols such as POTs, T1 E1 etc.

Instruments to monitor trackside optical cables include OTDR equipment such as the Viavi MTS-4000 or Exfo FTB-1, which help verify signal-path integrity and identify the location of faults. These cables are particularly vulnerable to environmental stresses, such as vibration caused by passing trains which can lead to poor link performance resulting from high Polarization Mode Dispersion (PMD). The Exfo FTB-5500 PMD Analyser can identify these issues.

Analysers to help visualise wireless network coverage are represented by the Fluke Networks Aircheck, and the Viavi JD-785 Base Station Test to test the specific GSM-R base stations. Systems like the Ascom TEMS Investigation or Rohde & Schwarz Romes, used with the TSMA scanner, help test cable-to-antenna connections and GSM/W-CDMA/LTE coverage.

“Railways are massively diverse in their use of technology. Safety is always paramount, but alongside there is the ever present and growing customer expectation of added value services such as Internet Access which needs to be continually satisfied. Systems that need to be maintained and continuously available extend from safety critical line power, signalling and communications systems to passenger service Wi-Fi and ticketing systems which have a very direct impact on revenue," commented George Acris, Marketing Director, Microlease.

"The Internet of Things (IOT) provides opportunities for the railways to streamline their operations but adds a further layer of devices that communicate and need to be commissioned, monitored and repaired," he added. "Microlease is making its test experience accessible to all those in the railway industry responsible for maintaining those systems, helping them ensure that they always have access to the latest high performance test instruments that they need without the burden of maintaining and calibrating those instruments themselves."

Microlease has been assessed and certified through the RISIQUE supplier scheme for the UK and Ireland rail industry (Certificate 15059).

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