Technical Approval for UK railways

Network Rail approves Cordel technology to automate gauge surveys

Cordel, the artificial intelligence provider for transport corridor analytics, is pleased to announce that Network Rail has approved Cordel’s technology for use in clearance gauging across the UK rail network. Cordel’s technology will help Network Rail automate and speed up the critical task of ensuring trains safely fit through infrastructure such as platforms and tunnels.

Network Rail already has one of the most advanced approaches to clearance assessment in the global rail industry. However, challenged by tightly-constrained infrastructure and budgets, Network Rail is deploying more sophisticated solutions to optimise gauging clearance.

The newly approved technology, developed from the Cordel Workbench, will help Network Rail to determine whether a different train will fit along a given route. This will make it easier to introduce new trains onto the network.

The Cordel Workbench is an AI-powered automated survey data processor that analyses LiDAR (laser point clouds), track position (linear reference) and other data gathered from third-party sources and technologies. Cordel automatically translates this data into accurate and comprehensive insight, outputting high-quality, survey-grade gauge profiles into the UK National Gauging Database. These survey files enable Network Rail to permit developments on existing trains as well as to allow new fleet deployments nationwide.

The Cordel Workbench also facilitates Network Rail’s support for decarbonising transport, including cost-effective and environmentally sustainable growth of the rail network delivering new routes, new stations and new electrification.

New routes require cost-effective monitoring to optimise maintenance: the Cordel Workbench automates tight clearance data processing to pinpoint maintenance requirements proactively.

New freight flows require an accurate understanding of the space envelope along every metre of a rail corridor: the Cordel Workbench can minimise the need for costly measures to maintain excessive track infrastructure clearance.

New electrification requires additional clearance to fit overhead line equipment: the Cordel Workbench can enable more accurate processing to reduce the investment needed (and eliminate disruption beyond the railway) at critical structures like road overbridges.

This Network Rail approval success is another milestone in Cordel’s relationship with the UK rail network. In August 2021, Cordel was awarded a five-month Proof-of-Concept contract to determine the suitability of Cordel’s technology for monitoring the overhead line, vegetation, ballast profiles, track and passing clearances on High Speed One (HS1). And back in December 2020, Cordel was awarded a 12-month contract with Network Rail to measure the location and encroachment of vegetation and to check track clearances for trains to pass lineside structures.

Beyond the UK, Cordel has contracts with major railroad companies around the world, including ARTC in Australia and Meitetsu in Japan. In June 2021, the Company announced its first paid project in the United States with Union Pacific Railroad.

James Sweeney, Senior Engineer, Network Rail, said: “The Cordel Workbench provides Network Rail with a significant step forward in automating data processing into insight, building on their experience on other international railways. Cordel’s ‘Bring-your-own-data’ approach means we can use them to ingest a variety of data from other suppliers and provide outputs in our standard formats that can be useful across the business.”

Nick Smith, CEO, Cordel, said: “Using the Cordel Workbench will significantly enhance Network Rail’s ability to achieve financial efficiencies within its five-year delivery plan as well as contributing to its safety and environmental targets. With Network Rail known as the global leader in clearances management, the approval has proved that our technology is a world leader in clearance data automation. It will support our expansion into other markets as we utilise this proven technology with other customers.”

Cordel is exhibiting at Railtex, the international exhibition of railway equipment, systems and services at the NEC Birmingham from 7-9 September 2021. Cordel can be found in Hall 12, at Stand G51.

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