Pantograph Monitoring on Scotland's rail network
On average, the UK railway experiences one ‘dewirement’ a month on its overhead catenary apparatus, with the cost of each incident estimated at around £1m. One of the main causes are defective pantographs units, which can inflict significant wear and tear on the wires.
In 2019, Network Rail Scotland commissioned Ricardo to install its PanMon system to capture real-time condition data of the pantographs affixed to all in-service vehicles operating on its electrified sections.
The units were positioned on some of Scotland’s busiest routes, including the East and West Coast lines, Edinburgh-Glasgow, North Clyde and Stranraer.
Once operational, the units were collectively capturing at least one image per day of every passing pantograph on the routes under their watch.
With high-definition cameras capturing 3,000 frames per second, even trains travelling at their highest speeds are photographed at 8mm intervals.
Within a few months, PanMon’s average accuracy exceeded 99.5%, with 50,000 pantographs scanned and analysed each month.
Its proven reliability has delivered operational efficiencies that are already paying back in terms of safety, network resilience and route availability.