The high level aim of the AUTOMAIN project is to make the movement of freight by rail more dependable (reliable, available, maintainable and safe) through the generation of additional capacity on the existing network. Through the widespread introduction of automation that is designed to improve the Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety (RAMS) of railway infrastructure equipment and systems, it is anticipated that required possession time (downtime) of the railway could be reduced by as much as 40%.
Therefore, the philosophy of the project team is to maintain infrastructure only when intervention is needed, instead of the now common schedule driven maintenance strategies. To achieve a step change, improvements must be made to railway infrastructure maintenance approaches through:
Increased reliability - This can be accomplished by means of more effective maintenance, which is achievable by improving inspection and monitoring capabilities.
Increased availability - This can be accomplished by reducing possession times, which is achievable by automating and optimising maintenance planning and scheduling, and also by speeding-up maintenance activities.
Increased maintainability - This can be accomplished by reducing the time taken to install and maintain infrastructure, which is achievable by identifying tasks that lend themselves to automation and then developing and introducing appropriate technology.
Improved worker safety - This can be accomplished by reducing the need for track workers to carry out tasks on or near the line, which is achievable through automated inspection techniques and the development of modular infrastructure.
In order to achieve these goals, the project will meet a series of specific objectives and deliver five key innovations. The work will take place within the framework provided by the project management strategy.