Infrastructure inspection trains of Victoria

Across Victoria there are a number of specialised rail vehicles used to inspect the tracks for faults – so let’s take a look at them.

Track evaluation vehicle IEV100

IEV100 is a track evaluation vehicle that traverses the Victorian railway network to test track quality. Self propelled with a diesel engine, and with the option to use standard or broad gauge bogies, this Plasser & Theurer EM100 track recorder was acquired by V/Line in the 1980s, passing to VicTrack following privatisation the 1990s.

EM100 running through Southern Cross Station on the down goods lines

It was then overhauled by Metro Trains Melbourne in 2012, with the original mechanical measurement wheels being replaced by a modern non-contact laser measurement system.

IEV100 on the up suburban lines at West Footscray

IEV100 was once capable of measuring the overhead contract wires, but the pantograph was removed around 2015.

IEV100 on the up suburban lines at West Footscray

Overhead inspection carriage IEV102

IEV102 is an overhead inspection carriage used across the Melbourne suburban network, converted from a retired V/Line passenger carriage in 2010, following a spate of overhead wire failures.

T377 leads T369 and the inspection carriage towards Flinders Street Station from Richmond

From a glass cupola atop the carriage, staff and video cameras onboard the carriage monitor how the pantograph tracks along the overhead wire.

Lead pantograph raised for the inspection run

Initially the carriage was hauled around the network by a pair of Metro Trains Melbourne’s T class locomotives, but from 2018 Southern Shorthaul Railroad took over the job.

T385 leads P18 through Footscray on an inspection run bound for Werribee

In October 2021 further changes happened, when a laser instrumented pantograph was installed atop the carriage, automating the collection of data.

New laser instrumented pantograph atop overhead inspection vehicle IEV102

‘AK’ track recording cars

The AK cars are a set of three specially equipped ex-NSWGR carriages fitted out for track inspection purposes. They are operated by the Australian Rail Track Corporation over their standard gauge lines behind hired motive power a few times each year.

GM27 leads GM22 on the down at Tottenham

Video cameras are mounted to the front of the train.

Both video cameras now in place on 8224

Wide inspection windows at the end of each carriage.

8135 leads the up AK cars working through Sunshine towards the Tottenham Triangle

Laser track measurement equipment beneath one of the carriages.

Laser measurement equipment beneath carriage AK 2383

And an accommodation carriage for the crew on their long journey across Australia.

Accommodation car AK 2384

Evaluation vehicle EV120 ‘Evie’

EV120 is a Geismar model RB2214TM locomotive hauled track and overhead inspection vehicle for the Victorian broad gauge rail network, acquired in 2021 to replace overhead inspection carriage IEV102 and track inspection vehicle IEV100.

Pantograph and roof view of the 'B' end of EV120

It has laser track measurement equipment attached to each bogie.

Laser track measurement equipment fitted to the A end of EV120

A pantograph on the roof.

Track inspection equipment and pantograph at the B end of EV120

And forward facing camera fitted to locomotives that haul it.

Forward facing camera fitted to the nose of P18 during the inspection run

Southern Shorthaul Railroad currently provides diesel locomotives and crews to haul it around the network.

P18 leads EV120 and P16 through Middle Footscray on a down inspection run to Sunbury

Ultrasonic rail flaw detection

Speno Rail Maintenance Australia operates a fleet of hi-rail Ultrasonic rail flaw detection trucks, which appear in Victoria from time to time.

Speno ultrasonic rail tester truck FL17 and accompanying hi-rail 4WD on the goods line at Brooklyn

The hi-rail truck tows an ultrasonic sensor array, scanning the steel rails for microscopic flaws.

Sensor array deployed at the rear of the ultrasonic rail testing truck

With a second crew following behind to mark any issues with paint.

Speno crew mark flawed rails with paint following the passage of the ultrasonic rail flaw detector

LIDAR and ground penetrating radar

In 2019 and 2020 V/Line completed an ad-hoc survey of their network using a variety of hired test equipment strapped to a surplus diesel locomotive.

P12 on arrival at Southern Cross Station

The first survey used LIDAR measure equipment, a NovAtel GPS receiver, and 360 degree camera equipment to create a digital map of the network.

LIDAR, NovAtel GPS receiver, and 360 degree camera equipment mounted to the front of P12

And was followed up by a ground penetrating radar system supplied by Zetica Rail to measure trackbed condition, including ballast depth, fouling and roughness.

Zetica Rail ground penetrating radar equipment fitted to the end of P15

Further reading

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3 Responses to “Infrastructure inspection trains of Victoria”

  1. Andrew says:

    I assume bogies are changed over to change the gauge of IEV100. I saw in Spain where a train can change gauges while in motion. I’ve no idea how that works.

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