Melbourne and Sydney AU

Case Study – Sydney Trains

Agonics experts accelerate the adoption of LiDAR in routine maintenance on Sydney Trains network.


Sydney Trains


Sydney, Australia


Periodical measurements of railway infrastructure are a critical activity in
any rail organisation. These measurements ensure that the railway track and adjacent assets remain in compliance with engineering standards.

While some measurements of track infrastructure are undertaken by remote sensing systems many measurements still require maintenance crews to visit the danger zone and manually record measurements, presenting results in standardised reports.

The frequency of measurement is based on the maintenance requirements of the individual asset as outlined in the relevant Technical Maintenance Plan (TMP).

Large volumes of assets require that field crews are active throughout the year so that reports are completed within the timeframes stipulated by the TMP.

In order to provide a safe working environment for field crews, inspections often require safeworking resources, increasing the overall cost of the inspection.

Sydney Trains was keen to learn if LiDAR data recorded across its network could be used to perform the same measurements but without sending maintenance crews into the danger zone. This would save time for critical inspection resources and lower safeworking costs across the business.

As a leading expert in LiDAR on rail networks, Agonics was able to demonstrate in a tendering process that it had the technical expertise and railway domain knowledge to partner with the client on a proof-of-concept project.


For the proof-of-concept area, representing 60 track kms of network, nine routine inspection use cases were considered. The use cases included reports on track centres, track alignment, ballast profile, platforms, structure gauge clearance, sighting distances, and vegetation clearance.

For each use case technical requirements were prepared by the client against which reports were to be generated using the client’s LiDAR datasets and reference data. The reports would then be submitted to the client for review.

At project begin project teams were formed by both client and Agonics. The Sydney Trains team consisted of subject matter experts drawn from various maintenance disciplines. The Agonics team consisted of LiDAR subject matter experts, railway engineers and surveyors with support from software developers.

The software developers were focused on configuring XERRA, the Agonics LiDAR processing and analysis software, which was built specifically for automating railway measurement. In this way measurement reports were generated in the required format and to the technical specification devised for each individual use case.

Meeting weekly, the teams worked closely together to prove up each use case allowing the client to refine technical requirements and critical reference datasets.

After several months of close collaboration all nine use cases were proved i.e. given the right software, workflows and validated LiDAR data, in-situ inspections of rail infrastructure could be minimised. An internal approval process then sought approval to change from in-situ measurements to reports derived from LiDAR data.


  • All 9 routine maintenance use cases were successfully proven
  • Critical reference datasets needed to support automated measurement could be refined and resourced by Sydney Trains
  • Internal approval to move to LiDAR based reporting was achieved
  • Client was able to prove potential cost savings by moving to LiDAR based reporting from in-situ measurements.