Project Objectives

It is crucial to reduce rail operational costs as well as to increase the reliability of service, especially in terms of punctuality. A recent report states that the most important factors governing passengers’ preference with respect to rail transport are cost and punctuality. Moreover, growing dissatisfaction is a major problem, as proven by a survey showing that 30% of passengers in the EU are not content with punctuality and reliability.

These facts clearly underpin the necessity for railway operators to:

  • Drive their costs down so as to be able to offer competitive prices;
  • Reduce train delays in order to meet customer demand for punctuality;
  • Enhance customer safety of train operations.


Train doors prove to be a critical element in both maintenance costs and train delays. Door actuator defects are the most common, especially in older trains where door malfunctions amount to 25%-50% of the rolling stock defects. This is rather high considering that the total rolling stock maintenance expenses amount to £0.4bn per year for Great Britain alone; that is €2.6bn for Europe as a whole. Train door failures are the largest single cause of delay and disruption of rail transit services, being responsible for more than 30% of the total delays. Various incidents have been reported including doors opening while the train is in motion, or people getting injured through a trapped body part because of the door force control system not working properly. It is imperative that the causes of such incidents are treated effectively. These facts clearly show that there is a strong need for a technological solution that could ensure the smooth operation of train door systems. It is this need that highlights our unique business opportunity.By continuously monitoring the condition of the train door actuators, we can enable train operators to plan their maintenance schemes much more efficiently, and reduce or eliminate unforeseen door malfunctions which lead to delays. This way, train operators will be able to significantly cut down the costs described above, as well as establish the necessary safety standards to protect passengers from train door related accidents.

Proposed Solution

VA-RCM’s cutting edge vibration analysis technology sets it apart from any other solution currently available in the market. Existing commercial solutions for condition monitoring of train doors are actually generic data acquisition and processing hardware devices. This means that they just offer the capability of connecting various sensors, store the acquired data and use the available computational power to process it. The processing software implementation is left to the technician.

In contrast, VA-RCM constitutes a total solution for train door condition monitoring, enabling condition based preventive maintenance directly out-of-the-box. The sophisticated analysis algorithms will be part of the embedded software running on the VA-RCM hardware modules.

As a result, the system will require minimal effort to setup and no programming experience for successful operation. Most importantly, VA-RCM’s technology will be an enabler of condition-based maintenance schemes. Its defect detection software does not rely on secondary sensorial data such as door opening/closing speed. It moves one step beyond by using vibration analysis algorithms to investigate the power distribution over the frequency spectrum of the signals obtained through an integrated accelerometer. This way, VA-RCM is able to detect defects as they develop, before they are traceable through secondary effects such as door motion slowdown. This is significant as such secondary effects may only arise after severe damage to the door mechanism has already occurred.

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