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ACEM-Rail: Automated and cost effective maintenance for railway

ACEM-Rail project aims for the development of innovative solutions as well as the adoption of solutions from other industries in order to reduce costs, resources, time and impact on rail services due to maintenance activities. In that sense, infrastructure managers, railway operators, maintenance companies and users of rail services for both passengers and freight transport will benefit from the innovative solutions that ACEM-Rail is targeting.

ACEM-Rail: Automated and cost effective maintenance for railway

(02/07/2013)  Railway infrastructure can be broadly structured into: the track, the overhead lines and the signalling system. The maintenance of the railway infrastructure is a complex process that represents a significant percentage of total railway infrastructure costs. Track maintenance is one of the most costly activities. The state of the infrastructure depends on many factors such as the characteristics and age of the elements, the track geometry, topography and geology, weather conditions or supporting loads. Furthermore, maintenance operations involve the track possession booking that requires the planning and coordination of rail activities in order to minimize the disruption of train services. Finally, the maintenance management based on cyclical works and on corrective maintenance entails high costs in both resources reliability and availability of infrastructure.

The ability of knowing the conditions of the track and predict their evolution would allow to fit the maintenance management into a model based on conditions/predictions. This is the purpose of the FP7 ACEM-Rail project. The ACEM-Rail technologies will help those responsible for making decisions to achieve optimal maintenance plans which minimize maintenance costs, ensure a satisfactory quality of service and reduce environmental impact of maintenance operations.

The Project

The final goal of ACEM-Rail Project is to reduce the costs and the interaction of maintenance operations with railway services as well as to improve the quality, safety, reliability and sustainability of the railway system. As a consequence, the availability of the track for freight services will be enlarged.

These goals are supported by research activities in five different pillars:

1. development of several track inspection technologies (some of them embarked on commercial trains),
2. development of predictive algorithms to estimate track degradation,
3. development of optimization algorithms and techniques for the planning of maintenance tasks,
4. development of procedures and tools based on mobile computers to monitor the execution of maintenance tasks and to assist the operator in the field,
5. development of an intelligent system to automate the management of track maintenance that supports the decision-making process.

Project Evolution

ACEM-Rail started in December 2010 and will finish in November 2013. The project is in its very final stage. All the technologies have already been developed and are being integrated into a unique ACEM-Rail system. The validation pilot is in Pugglia (Italy) in the railway infrastructure provided by Ferrovie de Gargano. However, the validation of some of the instrumentation technologies embarked on train started at an earlier stage in the SIEMENS Wegberg-Wildenrath railway test ring (Germany).

During the final demonstration in Italy, a good amount of data are being gathered and analysed. A set of Maintenance Performance Indicators has been defined in order to evaluate and quantify the sustainability of ACEM-Rail in terms of cost (economic impact), quality of rail services (social impact), CO2 emissions and natural resources maintenance (environmental impact).

The ACEM-Rail final results will be presented at a Workshop to be held on Monday, September 30, into the European Transport Conference 2013, in Frankfurt (Germany).



ACEM-Rail Project is co-financed by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (Grant Agreement no. 265954). The consortium is made up of the following organizations: Cemosa (Project Coordinator, Spain), University of Seville (Scientific Manager, Spain), two Fraunhofer institutes – for Transport and Infrastructure Systems FhG-IVI; for Nondestructive-Testing FhG-IZFP (Germany), Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli (Italy), Optim-Al (Bulgaria), DMA (Italy), Tecnomatica (Italy), SIEMENS (Germany) and ScanMaster (Israel).

More detailed information or questions about the ACEM-Rail project can be addressed to the Project Coordinator:


Project website:


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