NR uses AI to identify trackside scrap

Video analysis pinpoints redundant materials

Network Rail’s Southern Region is testing One Big Circle’s video and artificial intelligence software to identify redundant materials such as ballast, rail and sleepers on the lineside for reuse or scrap.

The software analyses high-definition video from forward facing cameras on trains to find abandoned material and locates them using GPS. Maintenance teams can then plan to safely remove the items.

Cutting waste: Network Rail is using AI to identify lineside scrap such as ballast bags.
Cutting waste: Network Rail is using AI to identify lineside scrap such as ballast bags. Network Rail

NR Senior Innovations Engineer Wayne Cherry says that in addition to lineside scrap looking unsightly, it can also obstruct engineering work and safe walkways or delay teams accessing worksites.

The Wessex Route says lineside scrap is a ‘significant hazard’ to track workers tripping or slipping on it, particularly in darkness.

Should the trial prove successful, NR hopes to use the technology on other parts of the rail network.