Development of A Turnout Rail Break Warning (TRBW) System Based on Distributed Optical Fiber Sensing (DOFS) Technologies

Recently, rail breaks at turnouts have been identified more and more frequently. An investigation by the European Union found that among turnout rail breaks more than 40% occurred at the switch rails (Figure 2). In the past decades, around 20% of track maintenance and renewal budgets have been spent on switches, not counting the cost associated with disrupted/delayed services (Kassa, et al. 2019). Currently, the rail industry relies primarily on periodic checks to detect rail cracks, using either ultrasonic vehicles (such as Sperry) or visual inspections. To improve railroad operation safety, realtime rail-break detection for turnouts is a great need. In this proposal, a turnout rail break warning (TRBW) system based on fiber optical and NB-IoT technologies is proposed. Although many optical sensing technologies have been developed, those designated as Distributed Optical Fiber Sensing (DOFS) are particularly attractive. By attaching a fiber-optic cable directly to a rail, DOFS is capable of making strain measurements continuously along the entire length.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Project Funded from Competitive Funds PSU Fed- $98,844 PSU Match- $99,662


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $198,506
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Center for Integrated Asset Management for Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CIAMTIS)

    Pennsylvania State University
    University Park, PA  United States  16802
  • Project Managers:

    Donnell, Eric

    Rajabipour, Farshad

  • Performing Organizations:

    Pennsylvania State University, University Park

    Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
    Research Office Building
    University Park, PA  United States  16802-4710
  • Start Date: 20200131
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220131
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01731467
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Center for Integrated Asset Management for Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Systems (CIAMTIS)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551847103
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Feb 20 2020 5:06PM