today 139

The digital twin is born


Data sources such as cameras, GPR, LiDAR, and many more provide a never-ending stream of information about the various elements of railway infrastructure. Building Information Modeling Systems (BIM) not only help with managing the influx of data, but also with using it to derive targeted measures.

As an already established concept, BIM significantly influences infrastructure management in many sectors of the construction industry. Now this concept is beginning to take root in the world of track maintenance as well. With the research project PredictiveTrackView, Plasser & Theurer is working on a solution that implements BIM in the areas of track construction planning and maintenance in a prac­tical way.

Track inspections are a crucial step prior to construction. They provide a significant part of the planning data that is essential to ensuring a safe construction process. The information required includes a comparison of the current state of the track and existing plans, the identification of potential hazards and problem areas, access points for staff, supply and logistics, and much more. Particularly for larger-scale projects that often comprise several hundred kilometres, track inspections require enormous amounts of time, money, and effort.

More than a virtual track inspection

PredictiveTrackView is a tool that consolidates, analyses, and clearly displays all available track data. That’s how track inspections become virtual. Safety measures are no longer necessary: you save time and costs. However, virtual track inspections are only one potential application scenario. The “digital twin” paves the way for a completely new dimension of maintenance planning.

Walk with me? BIM with me!

The endless possibilities of digitalisation make a physical track inspection with a tape measure, notepad, and pen seem downright archaic. In a BIM system, a digital twin of the physical track is created. It contains all relevant information. This includes a 3D model with geometrical data and physical attributes as well as other dimensions such as time, costs, and wear. The information is continuously compared with reality. With a simple mouse click or one tap of the finger, much more data can be obtained than a track inspection could ever provide: it is available any time and anywhere.

The name says it all

In line with the saying “prevention is better than cure”, PredictiveTrackView will be able to detect problem areas in the track or in its surroundings early on. But it doesn’t end here. Based on measuring series stored in the database, you can derive trends and predict future developments of problem areas.

Regular measuring runs using GPR provide information on the ballast bed condition and detect problems such as ballast fouling or mud pumping. PredictiveTrackView processes this data, observes the progression over time, and indicates early on where you need to take action. The software also uses current data from other sources, such as cameras or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). It monitors the entire track and provides the operator with objective decision criteria for targeted maintenance measures.

PredictiveTrackView doesn’t only bring the track to your office. It revolutionises maintenance management as a whole.

Martin Bürger
Head of Emerging Technologies, Plasser & Theurer

First preview presented at AusRAIL

The concept of BIM software for railway-specific applications was first presented at the iaf in Münster in 2017. A great deal has happened in the meantime. In February 2022, Plasser & Theurer presented a demo video at AusRAIL in Sydney, showcasing some PredictiveTrackView functions using the example of GPR data. Hygienic disposable Cardboards transform smartphones into VR goggles. Users embark on a 3D virtual track inspection. The tool reveals a multi-layered world of information that would remain hidden otherwise.

Find the teaser at

Indispensable for efficient maintenance

Consolidating all available track information in one system is indispensable for efficient maintenance. Digitalisation holds enormous savings potential. It increases the quality of the track and extends its service life while consuming less time and fewer resources. Developing PredictiveTrackView is an important step towards a BIM system that is tailored to the specific needs of the railway sector.

We are looking for development partners!

In order to make PredictiveTrackView as user-friendly and practical as possible, we are looking for partners from the railway infrastructure industry to help perfect the software and create a tool that adds value by sharing their valuable feedback with us.

Would you like to join us on the development journey? Don’t hesitate to get in touch at