A. Jamshidi, S. Faghih-Roohi, S. Hajizadeh, A. Núñez, R. Babuska, R. Dollevoet, Z. Li, and B. De Schutter, "A big data analysis approach for rail failure risk assessment," Risk Analysis, vol. 37, no. 8, pp. 1495-1507, Aug. 2017.
Railway infrastructure monitoring is a vital task to ensure rail transportation safety. A rail failure could result in not only a considerable impact on train delays and maintenance costs, but also on safety of passengers. In this paper, the aim is to assess the risk of a rail failure by analyzing a type of rail surface defects called squats that are detected automatically among the huge amount of records from video cameras. We propose an image processing approach for automatic detection of squats, especially severe types that are prone to rail breaks. We measure the visual length of the squats and use them to model the failure risk. For the assessment of the rail failure risk, we estimate the probability of rail failure based on the growth of squats. Moreover, we perform severity and crack growth analyses to consider the impact of rail traffic loads on defects in three different growth scenarios. The failure risk estimations are provided for several samples of squats with different crack growth lengths on a busy rail track of the Dutch railway network. The results illustrate the practicality and efficiency of the proposed approach.