Towards an asset management system for railway embankments and cuttings

The requirements for the management of embankments and cuttings on the railway network of the UK are set out in the Railtrack Group Standard GC/RT5151 entitled "Safe Asset Management of Embankments and Cuttings". Railtrack in Scotland has achieved substantial compliance with this standard through the development of an Asset Management System for Embankments and Cuttings. Implementation of the system commenced in early 2000, although data collection, geotechnical risk assessment and the production of a register of slope assets has been progressing over the last three years. The implementation of the system is a milestone in a huge data collection and analysis exercise that has led to a rational approach to the inspection and maintenance of embankments and cuttings. The process was developed in three stages, the first being the collection of data and its analysis to produce both a complete register of slopes and to highlight slopes presenting a high risk to the safe running of the railway. The second stage was the definition of maintenance requirements and cycles and re-examination periods for all slopes. The third stage was the ranking of each high risk slope to allow the judicious targeting of funds with the aim of reducing the overall level of risk to the network. Remedial works were commenced June 2000 at sites where the status of risk was identified as being high, the intention being to re-classify these slopes after the remedial works, as being of sufficiently low risk to be included in the scheduled re-examination and maintenance processes. Due to the large quantity and overall length of cuttings and embankments associated with the rail network, a method of rapidly and accurately assessing the risk of instability of cuttings and embankments was developed. The process developed in Scotland relies upon stereo oblique aerial photography (SOAP) where photographs are taken from a low-flying helicopter to provide complete stereo coverage of all slopes. The stereo images obtained are examined and, in conjunction with data from stewardship reports and observations made from the air, each slope is allocated a rating according to the assessed risk of failure. Every embankment and cutting greater than three metres in height or with a history of problems within Scotland has been photographed and attributed a risk rating.


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  • Accession Number: 01011794
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • ISBN: 0-947644-43-1
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Dec 19 2005 3:32PM