Railway Field Laboratory
Ongoing development and optimisation of the railway infrastructure by means of newly developed components calls for an approach based on a consideration of the overall superstructure-vehicle system, which considers noise reduction, safety, operation, as well as lifecycle costs. Solutions for many of these issues will be provided by the Railway Field Laboratory operated by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) together with the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT), the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and the Allianz Fahrweg (“Swiss Permanent Way Alliance”). The Laboratory consists of measurement installations on seven measurement cross-sections along a 1-km length of SBB track between Sempach and Rothenburg. Around 45,000 trains run on this section each year. The test section consists of two sections with concrete B91 sleepers – one with stiff under sleeper pads (USP), the other without USP. An adjacent section has wooden sleepers.
Developments over time, and the influence of environmental conditions on the overall railway system, can be observed on the track with continuous recording of all parameters. Permanent basic equipment consists of sensor technology and data acquisition. A data management system allows statistically validated statements concerning the effects of modifications to individual components. A structural-dynamic baseline guarantees the comparability of the trials. Müller-BBM Rail Technologies GmbH was contracted to operate the measurement infrastructure and to manage the data.
On this basis, operators and authorities as well as researchers and developers may obtain detailed insights and information. As a rule, the knowledge acquired, and the results obtained are publicly accessible. The objective is to develop a Competence Centre for noise, vibration and LCC in the railway environment, from which numerous research groups and rail-related enterprises will be able to benefit.
Use of the Railway Field Laboratory
The permanent measuring installation consists of basic measurement sensors and measurement technology equipment which is permanently installed on the test track. The measurement technology continuously supplies operational running data which is evaluated and made available to interested parties.
Project partners may carry out their own project-related measurements on the test track. Installation of additional measurement technology, special measuring runs, changes to the railway installation and to the superstructure are possible on request, provided that safety, security and operational running are guaranteed at all times.
The Federal government is the owner of the data and it regulates the use thereof. As a general rule, the data is publicly accessible. The Railway Field Laboratory is managed, and the data is collected and managed, by Müller-BBM Rail Technologies GmbH on behalf of the Federal government.