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OptaSense unveils novel technique for railway protection

15 November 2012

Speaking at today's Transport Security Expo in London, Peter Bradley of OptaSense outlined a novel technique for maintaining the integrity of railway infrastructure.

Photo courtesy of QinetiQ
Photo courtesy of QinetiQ

OptaSense (a divisional company of QinetiQ) protects the UK’s key infrastructure by turning fibre-optic cables into listening devices. Fibre optic cables are already present near our rail networks, and the OptaSense system measures changes in the acoustic field along the whole length of the fibre, potentially stretching for thousands of miles.

The technology means it is possible to detect a source event in real time, as well as analysing and locating it, from a rock fall, to theft of materials to damage to the track.

The company is already working with various rail companies in the US, and is now bringing its technology to the UK market. One recent study estimated overall theft of copper costs the UK economy £770m a year. With CCTV and fences being prohibitively expensive to construct and monitor, OptaSense's monitoring system offers a new solution to a problem that affects our entire 10,000 mile rail network.

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