Monday 4 March 2024

UIC fibre optics sensing seminar at UIC

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On 21 February 2024, the “Fibre Optics Sensing” seminar took place at UIC Headquarters in Paris. The event was organised to help railway organisations understand the basics of fibre optic technology and its potential applications within the railway sector for predictive maintenance and to enhance safety, as well as to learn how this technology has been implemented by different infrastructure managers through certain use cases.

The seminar was opened by Rosa Casquero, Head of Infrastructure and Train-Track Interaction at UIC, who also chaired the first of the seminar’s three sessions. The initial session discussed the basics of the technology and began with a presentation from Francisco López, CEO of Aragon Photonics Labs (APL), describing the system and its applications. Following APL, Yannick Maier, Account Manager at Sensonic GmbH, focused on Fibre Optic Sensing (FOS) algorithms and client interfaces. He closed the first session with a live demonstration from two colleagues who were in the field on a monitored track in the Czech Republic, showing how alerts are received when people walk close to the track, someone is digging close to it, or a car passes by.

The second session dealt with on-track use cases. Moderated by Bernhard Knoll, Head of the Superstructure Department at ÖBB and Chair of the UIC’s Track Experts Group, the session started with a presentation on “Track Condition Monitoring” from Ivan Vidovic, Manager of Voestalpine’s Intelligent Turnout Programme. Tarik Hammi, Chief Science Officer of the SURFO project at SNCF, then continued the session, giving a presentation on the SURFO (Fibre Optic Monitoring) project programme, its results, and outlook. Finally Pedro Pérez, R&D Project Manager at ADIF, discussed “ADIF’s experience on Broken Rail Detection and Operational Issues”.

The third and final session was devoted to infrastructure use cases and moderated by Tuomas Kaira, UIC Senior Advisor on Infrastructure. Pérez was also a speaker in the session, opening it with a presentation on “ADIF experience on ROCKFALL detection”. The second presentation was given by Joseph Grand, SURFO project collaborator and PhD student at the Université Paris-Cité, who detailed SNCF’s experience with rockfalls, underground spaces and bridge monitoring. Finally, the workshop’s last presentation was jointly given by Axel Roland Toth, Head of the Bridge Department at MÁV Zrt., and Attila Buzás, Managing Director at AdvaNet Hungary, who highlighted a Hungarian case study related to railway bridge monitoring through FOS.

The event was a great success and provided a perfect platform for information and best practices regarding the use of fibre optics in the industry to be exchanged. The seminar made it clear that this technology is promising, but it equally requires all stakeholders to be rowing in the same direction.

For more information, please contact Jesús Palma, Junior Advisor Infrastructure, at

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