Benefit Cost Analysis of Railroad Track Monitoring Using Sensors On-Board Revenue Service Trains

This study will develop, implement, and evaluate a benefit cost analysis (BCA) method to assess the benefits and costs of implementing an autonomous track geometry monitoring system to screen the network for faults during normal train operations. The BCA will quantify and monetize all potential costs and benefits of the technology deployment. Cost estimates will include research to obtain volume dependent pricing for equipment from key manufacturers of all the required system components. A complete autonomous track geometry monitoring system will include wireless sensors, energy harvesting devices, wireless access points, cloud computing resources, and maintenance. Costs such as a first installation may be one-time and other costs such as wide-area network communications and a cloud-service subscription may be recurring. Hence, some of the cost changes may be non-linear over time because of technology commoditization and the dynamic costs for cloud computing services. Quantifying the benefits will involve research and analysis to estimate time and monetary savings for track inspections and the reduction of track closures. Other potential benefits are from derailment risk reduction due to more regular inspections. The study will also describe any benefits that are not quantifiable in monetary terms, such as the use of standard web interface tools, the convenience of data visualization, and the modernization of asset management systems that incorporate the technology. In addition, this study will conduct an uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of the BCA under various scenarios proposed by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) stakeholders.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $129022
  • 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:

    Mountain-Plains Consortium

    North Dakota State University
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108
  • Project Managers:

    Tolliver, Denver

  • Performing Organizations:

    Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute

    1320 Albrecht Blvd.
    Fargo, ND  United States  58102
  • Principal Investigators:

    Bridgelall, Raj

    Lu, Pan

  • Start Date: 20171201
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220731
  • Actual Completion Date: 20220107
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
  • Source Data: MPC-549

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01653377
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747108
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Dec 12 2017 11:39AM