Network Rail partners with Cognizant, Amey Consulting and Arup

13 February 2020 3 min. read

As Network Rail attempts to reduce spending and improve the service it provides to millions of travellers across Britain, it is looking to finally realise the potential of remote condition monitoring and AI for its track maintenance efforts. Cognizant will lead a consortium with Amey Consulting and Arup to help deliver the project.

Network Rail controls more than 20,000 miles of train track across Britain and Northern Ireland. Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. Over such an expansive system of routes, monitoring the conditions of the track and scheduling maintenance can be extremely difficult – particularly in rural locations. Now, Network Rail is determined to deploy innovative new technology to help aid in this crucial area of work.

Remote condition monitoring can allow for Network Rail to track wear and tear across its routes, without having to expend significant time and resources to do so. Traditionally, the application of remote condition monitoring on rail infrastructure has only been deployed tactically due to the substantial cost of the digital technology required. At the same time, benefits have been difficult to sustain and even harder to measure – however a new programme, supported by three consulting firms, is looking to change that on Network Rail’s behalf.

Network Rail partners with Cognizant, Amey Consulting and Arup

The Intelligent Infrastructure strategy will seek to address the former failings of remote condition monitoring, developing it into a business-driven solution that is scalable and sustainable. The new capabilities will equip Network Rail with real-time condition monitoring and data-driven insights, aided by artificial intelligence, to improve decision-making and asset management. Network Rail expects to lower costs and enhance safety by predicting and preventing maintenance issues, prioritising work streams and minimising the time rail workers spend on the tracks.

Jacqueline Young, Intelligent Infrastructure Director, Network Rail, said, “To fulfil our ambition, we need to adopt a strong partnership model that harnesses expertise from across the industry. We are forming a network of partnerships that will drive transformation across the railway, improving life for colleagues, working every day to maintain and renew our infrastructure, and ultimately providing a safe and reliable railway for the millions of passengers who depend on us every day."

The strategy is being overseen by a consortium of consulting firms. Cognizant, Amey Consulting and Arup have been awarded a five-year contract to design, build and operate digital capabilities based on artificial intelligence, internet of things, data analytics, and mobility technologies that will help improve Network Rail's asset management and overall performance. Cognizant will lead the consortium in developing and applying enhanced data collection and analytics to Network Rail's more than 12,000 connected assets, such as track circuits, signal power supplies, and switches.

Santosh Thomas, President, Global Growth Markets, Cognizant, commented, "Industry estimates indicate passenger demand for rail will more than double over the next couple of decades, with freight demand rising as much as 140%. This is driving the need for new approaches in asset management – the ability to take a 'predict and prevent' approach to maintenance, and shaping a smarter, more efficient, cost-effective approach to whole life asset management."