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Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors for railway monitoring

For the last decade, fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors have been attracting more attention from scientists all over the globe thanks to their numeral benefits. Nowadays, they are widely applied in health monitoring, aerospace, civil engineering, oil & gas, smart structures, etc. In this article, we will consider FBG sensors for one of the most used transportation systems, for railways.

FBG sensors in railway transport systems

Railway transport systems have faced a range of difficulties such as longer service availability, providing high safety levels, reduced energy consumption, and optimal operation. Monitoring systems should meet all of these tasks without interruption.

According to many successful pieces of research, fiber optic technology can provide all these aspects at once, it can be applied to ensure railway monitoring. It is important to understand the structural and operating conditions of rails and freight and passenger service cars to provide safe and reliable work.

FBG sensors for railway monitoring

The point is that FBG sensors have many crucial characteristics that perfectly suit railways’ operational conditions. For instance, it is a very long-range interrogation, that is better, especially in comparison with usual electrical sensors. Fiber Bragg Grating sensors are the only sensors that measure all the data and offer it in real-time. FBGs also are low susceptible to fluctuations. Moreover, they can be interrogated from any end.

All these features are especially significant for the railways in providing safe operations. In addition to that, FBGs are universal and can be applied for measuring many other parameters like inclination and acceleration over a large area.

Recent programs with fiber Bragg grating sensors

The most recent project where Fiber Bragg Grating sensors are involved is taken place in India. The main goal is to make the railways there safer with the help of fiber optic technology. Specialists have used sensing technology to reduce travel time and increase the trains’ speed between two states. The railway construction will be conducted by a developed structural health monitoring system.

Thanks to monitoring systems based on fiber optic solutions, rail corporations could easily get real-time data about rail structures’ conditions within 24 hours. Therefore, this feature will fast the warning alerts for possible damage detection. The fiber optic technology can be configured for any type of location and structure, even in vulnerable areas. It is specially referred to as earth slip locations, heavy rainfall areas, etc. However, recently only routine manual inspection is carried out in such cases. Constant monitoring with the FBG sensors will provide real rail safety in such areas.

The government considers that the potential of fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors is huge and can be applied in other projects on rail safety. It allows finding the structural defects out as early as possible, not only when an accident occurs. The preventative work gives an opportunity to avoid many troubles and mass casualties that happen.
All in all, thanks to constant real-time monitoring, timely warning alerts, and the possibility of applying in severe environmental circumstances, specialists can use fiber optic technology in many spheres, as well as railways.

Optromix is a fast-growing vendor of fiber Bragg grating (FBG) product line such as fiber Bragg grating sensors, for example, fbg strain sensors, FBG interrogators and multiplexers, Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) systems, Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) systems. The company creates and supplies a broad variety of fiber optic solutions for monitoring worldwide. If you are interested in structural health monitoring systems and want to learn more, please contact us at