Railway Siding Expansion Site Inspection

Railway Siding Expansion Site Inspection

A railway client was planning to extend a section of siding on a route running along the Mississippi River. They needed to conduct an environmental inspection before adding the extension and contacted Pinnacle for assistance. Much of the land surrounding the track was heavily forested with 100+ foot bluffs. The complex landscape made it more difficult and potentially dangerous to use on-the-ground survey crews for a visual inspection.

Conducting Visual Inspections and Topography Mapping

Pinnacle has a cutting-edge drone program and proposed using LiDAR drone technology to inspect the proposed siding extension area. The primary benefit of drones is the ability to deploy the equipment from a nearby location, eliminating the need to send crews into difficult-to-navigate areas. Drones that utilize LiDAR technology are especially useful for visual inspections because they collect hundreds of geo-referenced data points per square meter. Our team used the data collected to create a detailed topography of the area, which allowed our rail client to successfully plan their siding extension. 

Identifying Potential Rail Disasters with Drone Technology

For this project, conducting a drone survey of railroad tracks and the surrounding land was also valuable in monitoring potential problem areas that could eventually lead to disaster. Bluffs have rock shelves that can create derailment hazards along rail lines when they become unstable. Our team used LiDAR technology and thermal imaging cameras to note the location of rock shelves and identify areas where water erosion could cause instability in the future. By performing this type of inspection annually, the team can compare historical data to see where the rock has slightly shifted and note areas that have become dangerously unstable.