HS1 and AR Technology: How 5G is unlocking rail potential

3 min


c. Mark Barrot. Flickr

After HS1 ltd announced the development project involving AR sensors to detect faults on the line, Tangent meets with Richard Thorp, engineering director for HS1, to discuss what it means for passengers on the line and safety on the track.

The development of the 5G Augmented Reality Digital Twin Project along the line is expected to revolutionise the HS1 line. 

Richard Thorp, Engineering Director

The new technology is designed to monitor potential faults of assets at stations, such as lifts and escalators, and also potential signalling faults on the track. 

The information collected will be sent to maintenance teams through a private 5G network. The new network will allow these assets to be monitored in real-time to reduce repair times across the infrastructure.

Richard told Tangent: “Primarily what we need to be doing is using the project to help us make more effective decisions. Can we optimise the operation and maintenance of the asset, so the people going out to make the changes are as effective as possible.”

The development of this technology allows for an expansion of the capabilities in monitoring faults.

Richard explained: “The stumbling block in the past has always been the communication technology to get the data from our assets. It is the 5G element that allows us to monitor in real-time. I think it is really learning and adapting to make effective decision making.”

High-Tech improves passenger experience 

Passengers will be hoping to see a decrease in service delays along the line due to the AR intervention. “Focusing on station and route assets we can provide a system overview so we can help manage people’s end to end journey from when they get to the station to when they get to their destination,” said Richard.

Focusing on station and route assets we can provide a system overview so we can help manage people’s end to end journey

“Integrated digital twins give a much bigger picture of how the railway is operating and how our passengers are moving through our stations and across our infrastructure.”

Safety is at the heart of new developments 

Improving safety on the track is an issue at the heart of any development plans in rail. The new project addresses multiple safety issues along the line.  

“If we can limit people’s exposure on the track, only sending them out to do effective maintenance they will be on the track for the shortest time possible they can diagnose as much of the fault as possible without going on the track.”

c. Peter Bester. Flickr

This is one of the main benefits of the new technology. Augmented reality allows for accurate pinpointing of faults on the line and the sensors can detect faults before they occur. 

The trick will be understanding what the thresholds are in terms of when a fault is about to occur

Richard explained to Tangent: “The trick will be understanding what the thresholds are in terms of when a fault is about to occur. What we are trying to do is move from the reactive environment to a prognostic environment.” 

The combination of multiple technologies is unlocking the true potential for the rail industry. Moving forward, the biggest task facing the industry is scaling this technology across the sector and using this data to reduce the number of interventions and failures along the line.


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