28 Oct

Securing Railway crossings with Radar

  • Sensing and Control Systems

The Dutch railway network has a high safety level. However, there are still many safety incidents each year. Often these incidents take place at railway crossings that are not actively secured. Such incidents can lead to severe personal and material damage.

The safety systems that are currently used to secure railway crossings are expensive and difficult to install. In addition they include large amounts of copper wires, which are susceptible to theft. In order to address these issues, S&T is collaborating with ProRail on a new sensor system.

Our proposed solution is based on radar technology. Radar, originally a military invention, is a technology that has proven very reliable and is used in many critical applications (such as navigation, and security applications). In recent years radar technology has developed greatly with the introduction of solid-state radars, in which the entire radar is made on a circuit board (“radar on a chip”). This allows us to develop a cost effective, robust sensor system for train detection.

In general terms, the system is based on the remote sensing of trains using directed radar sensors. Each radar sensor will be equipped with a processing unit which will process the radar signals in order to detect trains.  The moving trains can easily be distinguished from other objects in the surroundings (whose reflections normally could disturb radar detection) due to their speed in a process called Doppler processing.  Once a train is detected a signal is send to the crossing, and the barrier can be closed.

Our solution is novel in a number of ways: it is the first time remote sensing is used for train detection, it allows not only for the detection of a train, but also for continuous tracking of its location and speed, and it is very cost effective.