Blog Post

On the Right Track – TSA Conference 2017





The latest techniques for geospatial data collection went hand in hand with railway heritage at TSA’s annual conference, held at Swindon’s STEAM Museum on 9 November 2017.

The engineering achievements of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the legacy of the Great Western Railway, provided an inspirational ‘back to the future’ location for members to consider the fundamental role of the surveyor in Network Rail’s current modernisation programme.

Conference Chairman and President of TSA, Adam Bradley summed it up, ‘’The high attendance by TSA member companies of all sizes reflected the quality of the speakers, from an industry closely aligned to many of our clients.”

”The message from all the presentations was clear – the surveying profession is uniquely positioned to help train operators gain added value from the increasingly sophisticated technologies now available for the collection and analysis of data.’’

Keynote speaker Chris Preston explained how the use of UAVs and other non-contact techniques can overcome many of the current and future cost and capacity challenges faced by NR and the train operating companies.

Well known as Senior Engineer with the Safety, Technical and Engineering Directorate for NR, and with four decades of surveying experience behind him, Chris indicated that the geospatial skills required to integrate project data with corporate asset information, thus achieving better value on the survey spend, remained a challenge for the organisation.

In the next presentation, Trevor Burton of Fugro outlined how the RILA train mounted survey system measures absolute track position and geometry at line speed, and to engineering specification accuracy. Equipment can be installed in a transportable device, mounted to the automated coupler of a passenger train or a set of buffers within two minutes.

Barry Gleeson, Programme Manager for BIM at IP Southern and Alan Barrow, MD of ABA Surveying Ltd looked at some of the drivers, challenges and opportunities for BIM implementation in large infrastructure projects. Their presentations indicated that surveyors, surveying and survey data management is key to its success.

Before the break for lunch, and the opportunity to network and look round the museum’s impressive display, James Pignon of MHP Communications provided an overview of the on-going Brexit talks and members took the opportunity to have their say in the lively Q&A that followed.

TSA is always delighted to be able to congratulate our annual Bursary award winner in person. Ricky Leung, a second year Geomatics student, at Newcastle University impressed the judges with his paper on the integration of survey technologies into both airborne and land-based unmanned, autonomous surveying platforms, to ensure accurate mapping. Adam Bradley presented Ricky with the first part of his prize.

Rollo Rigby, director at Severn Partnership started the afternoon session off with some examples of ‘Lean Geomatics’ from the delivery of over 260,000 yards of track survey from 2016, including use of the Pegasus2 mobile mapping system.

The development of Automatic 3D monitoring is a practical solution for engineers to better understand impacts to the railway. Dominic Kisz of Datum Monitoring Services discussed the technology and explained the use of adjustment packages to deliver higher accuracy.

The final presentation by Will Bruce of Track Access Services (TAS) detailed the use of several products, including an online platform providing driver’s eye video coverage of the on-track rail network, linked to a moving locational map accompanied by overlaid information graphics.

A selection of the positive feedback comments we received are featured below.

’The agenda was fantastic, presenters brilliant, Subject matter superb…. Best TSA day as far as content I have been to.’’

‘’I always love coming to the TSA annual conference, a worthwhile day that is enjoyed by all.’’

‘’Great to get some food for thought on where the industry is going, look forward to next year.’’

‘’ Another well organised event.’’

‘’A very useful and interesting day.’’

‘’Excellent talks and good networking opportunity.’’