This paper provides an introduction to a Rail Break Detection and Train Location Detection using fiber optic technology called Smart Rail. The technology concept detailed in this paper not only detects the location of a broken rail, it also provides advanced warning of rail damage that may evolve into a dangerous condition. The same technology allows for the detection of trains and vehicles in the detection zone and provides location, speed and direction information.
The Smart Rail continuously monitors rails for changes in their ability support the train in a safe manner. Smart Rail technology is based on direct observations of the structural quality of the rail by means of rail strain detection. Smart Rail technology detects the location, speed and direction of vehicles on the rails without the need for onboard equipment. It reports the location of vehicles whether moving or not.
Smart Rail technology is also capable of detecting and providing a warning of: rail gauge separation, lose or missing track hardware, missing tie plates and flat wheels. Taken together this technology can assist in the prevention of derailments. The technology can be applied to existing rails with no need to modify any existing equipment or track circuits. The train detection range can be up to 50 miles per direction from one wayside location.