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Reduces train delays in Sweden

Published: 12 September 2016

Railway Research Centre (JVTC) at Luleå University of Technology has developed new cutting edge track switches that can make the trains on Sweden's railways punctual again. Tests of switches based on the new concept is planned in 2017 by the Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket.

- The new track switches are easier to maintain as much of the repairs can be done in a workshop while the trains continue to roll freely on the tracks. This is thanks to the new flexible and stronger design , says Jan Lundberg, a professor of operations and maintenance at Luleå University of Technology who developed the new switches concept.

Swedish Transport Administration is very positive

Trafikverket which funded the research of the new track switch believe in the new concept as these have potential to reduce the need for maintenance of switches at the Swedish railways. This means that maintenance costs can be reduced and as a consequence also reduce train delays. Trafikverket is looking forward to start testing parts of the new concept of the points in the Swedish rail during 2017.

  – I believe in the concept for the new switches we have formed, that are sustainable over time, a stable product that can handle the load and improves its longevity. Now, parts of the concept is going to be tested on Swedish railways in 2017. The prototype is not finished yet, says Arne Nissen, track engineer at Trafikverket.

Malfunctioning switches behind delays

Today is faulty switches one of the most common causes of delayed and canceled train journeys for travelers and commuters in Sweden. Faulty switches accounts, stand for about 25 percent of all delays in the Swedish rail traffic. Maintenance of today's switches involves one of the single highest cost of Traffic Authority regarding existing railways in Sweden and has been a problem for the Authority for many years. Especially in congested railway, maintenance costs will be higher today because the amount of train, force extensive maintenance. Train delays have become an everyday and major problem for passengers on these routes.

The trains run while the switch get repaired

The Swedish railway network has over 15 000 switches which Trafikverket is responsible for 12 000. A typical switch can be about 65 meters long. Error in switches leads to train delays. The switches are exposed to high forces in vertically and laterally when a train passes by. These forces affect the function of the switches and it requires periodic maintenance to no fault to occur. A more stable design leads to less maintenance, longer life and fewer errors.

What makes the new switch unique is that trains can continue to roll on schedule, while the repair work of the gears is in progress. This is thanks to the new particular concept of the switches. The new groundbreaking tracks switch also get longer life thanks to a stronger design.

The manufacturers who participated in the development assesses the new concept as very valuable and relevant.