2016-01 MSc assignment: self reporting railway infrastructure at ProRail

Master graduation ProRail

Self-reporting railway – Early Warning Systems

ProRail is a government task organisation that takes care of maintenance and extensions of the national railway network infrastructure (excl. metro and tram) of allocating rail capacity, and of traffic control. One of the main goals of ProRail is to reduce the number of failures per year that has an impact on train schedules and the punctuality. A lot of measures and interventions are imaginable to solve issues. One of them is “the self-reporting railway” using an “early warning system”.

What is the self-reporting railway?

A lot of the infrastructure entities collect a lot of ICT data daily incl. condition and performance. Currently, little is done with this data and ProRail sees many possible opportunities using ICT data. As an example, you can think of an EBP underpost gathering its voltage data. It does not seem more than logical that there is a direct relation between this ICT data and the performance of the object the data is about. Releasing this information to a mechanic engineer will help to diagnose the root cause problem and possibly to make a faster repair.

Moreover, before an object fails, it is possible to forecast, from the ICT data, that a failure is highly probable in the coming period. As soon as the statistical relations between the performance of an object and the ICT data are clear, it might be possible to predict, based on the patterns in the data, what is the probability that an object is in a degraded state: the object will “call in sick”. In that case the condition of the object can, at a favourable time (during maintenance), be brought back to the desired level of performance.

What is needed for this?

In general the following steps are necessary:


Stocktaking of the ICT data which is available (make use of already done stocktaking’s)


Research on the behaviour by monitoring the performance of the infrastructure objects (selected based on their importance or criticality).


Discover correlations/relations between both which have predictive value


Determine norms and limiting values


Make a proposal for implementation (both process as ICT)

ProRail has expertise and data in the field of ICT data and the performance of the infra object. Besides this, external research capacity is necessary to recognize the pattern between the behaviour of the object and the monitoring data. The project will be carried out in the head quarter of ProRail in Utrecht.


This project can be done as a graduation project of a master student in Industrial Engineering and Management / Mechanical engineering / Applied Mathematics with interest in maintenance, condition data an statistical technics.

University contact: Dr. A. Al Hanbali (a.alhanbali@utwente.nl), Company contact: Mr. S. Hazenberg (Sybren.Hazenberg@prorail.nl), Project leader, Infra data center, Utrecht.