OLErt Case Study: Stagger Exceedance

OLErt Case Study: Stagger Exceedance

A real issue for the rail industry, stagger exceedance (which is the longitudinal alignment of overhead lines) occurs when overhead wires run outside the normal contact area of the pantograph, increasing wear and tear on the wire. 

Should this continue to move towards the outside (or is blown there by the wind), there is an increased risk of dewirement from the pantograph ‘hooking over’ the overhead line and impacting rail services. Innovation and technology comes to the fore when resolving such issues, which we will explore further in this case study.


The overhead line near Hanwell delivers electricity for the busy rail network transporting trains from London out towards Reading, a key commuter route on Great Western Railway’s (GWR’s) network. The Network Rail Mentor system (NR’s overhead line test train) had run in the area the week before and detected several potential faults. The wire was found to be exceeding stagger, which would only worsen if left unattended and could potentially result in huge disruption and significant delays.

Harnessing OLErt

OLErt (Overhead Line Equipment in real-time) aims to provide an innovative, low-cost technology solution that will dramatically reduce the incidence of failures to electrified infrastructure and fleets through continuous and dynamic computer vision monitoring and alerting on service trains.

A tried and tested system, OLErt has been adopted across the industry to tackle a wide range of issues, including the stagger incident at Hanwell. Created with efficiency in mind, the OLErt system was deployed on the same route immediately following the receipt of the Mentor’s data regarding the incident that occurred at Hanwell. Within one week, the OLErt system was able to use its on-train forward facing camera, combined with its location tracking device to establish the faults and confirm the actions that were needed to be taken to rectify the problem, in advance of any incidents occurring.

Thanks to OLErt’s ground-breaking GPS capabilities, the exact location of the exceedance was easily identified, enabling a maintenance team to be deployed to the specific point of fault. This not only meant that rectifying the fault was easy to locate and therefore fix, but that the risk of a complete dewirement was avoided.

The value of OLErt

In this case, the deployment of OLErt allowed follow up monitoring of the potential issue straight away, following the running of Mentor on the route. As NR’s Mentor train only runs once every year, the use of OLErt on service trains operating the route meant that further monitoring of the situation could be completed straightaway. Not only does this allow for immediate confirmation of faults, but thanks to OLErt’s in-built GPS capabilities, more precise data could be supplied to the maintenance to team to rectify the fault much more efficiently and any potential further impacts across the route, were averted.

Unlocking Innovation at RIA’s ‘RISE’ awards

Incremental have gained further industry recognition by being awards with the ‘Unlocking Innovation’ award at last night’s Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) annual conference. (7th November).

Representing Incremental on the night were (l-r) Lewis Gill, David Campbell, Kate Naylor and Daniel Lee-Bursnall.

The awards, which ‘celebrate Railway Industry Supplier Excellence’, recognise and acknowledge the businesses and individuals who are making notable and positive changes to the multi-£billion industry.

Incremental’s award was for their OLErt system which provides real-time monitoring and analysis of overhead line equiptment, and recognises signs of deterioration or misalignment. Such predictive analysis is helping to prevent costly and delay-causing incidents which can effect the entire rail network.

Daniel Lee-Bursnall, Founder and Commercial Director, commented:
“We’re really pleased with this industry recognition and would like in turn to thank our partners who have helped, not just with the OLErt project, but with our growth and development in general – such as Innovate UK, Department for Transport, GWR, Network Rail, Icomera, LEP and many others.”

About The Railway Industry Association
RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.The Railway Industry Association is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. We promote and represent our members’ interests to policy makers, clients and other stakeholders in the UK and overseas. RIA has 250+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number).

Incremental are Shortlisted for Two Railway Industry Association Awards

We’re incredibly proud to have been shortlisted for the Rail Industry Association’s RISE awards in the ‘Growth in Rail, SME’ and ‘Unlocking Innovation’ categories – the latter for our OLErt product.

The RISE awards are to ‘celebrate Railway Industry Supplier Excellence’ – so we know we are against some tough and extremely worthy competition.

The inaugural event covers categories such as Rail Exporter, Safety & Wellbeing, Diversity & Inclusion, Environmental Sustainability, Future Leader and the aforementioned Growth in Rail and Unlocking Innovation categories.

The winners will be announced at the RIA Annual Conference 2019, in London.

Incremental Shortlisted for Rail Innovation Award

On Friday 28th June we will find out if our OLErt system wins another award – this time at the Railway Innovation Awards, held in London. As with the recent Rail Partnership Awards, OLErt’s entry to the awards has been submitted with partner companies GWR, Network Rail, Icomera and Oxford University.

The awards were founded in 1998 and are the longest-running awards scheme in the industry with the aim to celebrate the achievements of those companies and individuals who are pushing the industry forward by developing innovative ideas.

Founder and Commercial Director Daniel Lee-Bursnall, and Head of Business Delivery, Kate Naylor, will be attending the event where OLErt has been shortlisted in the “Cross-industry Partnership” category.

For more on the awards, go to; http://www.4thfriday.co.uk/railway-industry-innovation-awards/

First Of A Kind Government funding for Incremental

We’re pleased to announce we have been awarded Government Transport and Innovate UK funding for our OLErt dynamic monitoring system.

As one of 24 winning projects in the third round of the First Of A Kind (FOAK) competition, the win will enable Incremental to build upon the successful trial of the system and begin nationwide roll-out.

With the overall aim to help create a more safe, efficient and effective electrified train network, the OLErt system is unique, and will dramatically reduce the incidence of failures to electrified infrastructure and fleets. By continually monitoring and evaluating train infrastructure (in this case, the Overhead Line Equipment), the system analyses data to highlight abnormal events – before they happen. As this is recorded, analysed and reported in real-time, it can therefore prevent dewirements and any other overhead line issues, whose effect is often felt across the railway network.

As announced in January of this year, the OLErt system was chosen by Network Rail and GWR to prototype the technology solution, https://www.incrementalsolutions.co.uk/incremental-chosen-to-develop-innovative-monitoring-system-for-electric-trains-2/.

The FOAK competition is part of the Department for Transports £7.8 million investment to drive forward innovation which will transform the railways. Other winning ideas included inspection drones, hydrogen train trials and sound mitigation products.

For more on the Department for Transport and this story;https://www.gov.uk/government/news/78-million-to-drive-forward-innovative-ideas-to-transform-railways

OLErt a winner at the Rail Partnership Awards

Our OLErt image recognition technology was a winner at the recent Rail Partnership Awards, held in Birmingham.

The OLErt (Overhead Line Equipment in real-time) system integrates visual measurement algorithms (from Oxford University academics) with Incremental’s award winning analytics platforms and precise positional certainty data, to leverage imagery from existing roof-mounted camera equipment. The gathered data is then analysed to highlight abnormal infrastructure events before being transmitted in real-time through (partner company) Icomera’s connectivity platform to provide failure and emerging alerts to operational maintenance teams for immediate remedial action.

No other available technology can provide dynamic monitoring in this way or will have such a transformative reduction in the incidence of overhead-line dewirements or pantograph train damage.

The Rail Partnership Awards bring together the supply chain to celebrate the very best of achievements in the rail industry. There are 14 award categories of which entrants are judged by a panel of 20 experts from across the industry.