Reality capture to gear up for Melbourne’s rail network

By on 5 June, 2017

Mapping rail lines in a safer, easier and more accurate way

The train network in Melbourne is getting a major revamp with several projects in progress to help tackle congestion. To improve travel around Melbourne, the Victorian Government is removing dangerous and congested rail level crossings. In addition, the Metro Tunnel project will add new underground stations and next-generation high capacity trains for the metropolitan network. This means that next generation, high capacity signalling will be installed, allowing the trains to safely run closer together and more often. This will be the first roll-out of high capacity signalling on an existing network anywhere in Australia.

To prepare for the busy piece of Melbourne’s railway infrastructure, topographical surveys were needed. Metro Trains Melbourne & Laing O’Rourke GWAF project, turned to Heading and Associates, a professional surveying and project management firm specialising in survey, construction supervision and project management, property and environmental survey, and design applications to perform several surveys.

The project and delivery timelines provided the ideal time to upgrade to newer, faster and more efficient solutions for data capture.

Site limits and challenges

As with all railway topographical surveys, the limitations of site access and heavy regulation in the rail

environment limits the way survey work is carried out, especially with little tolerance on network interruptions.

As part of the Level Crossings Removal Project, the team at Heading and Associates were tasked to map out a rail line covering 26 kilometres – a rail line where existing survey grade data was not available.

To deliver the level of detail needed using traditional survey work, the project team would need to conduct the work at night with terrestrial laser scanners. The project timelines and budget did not allow for this – the only solution was to use a mobile mapping system mounted on a hi-rail to capture the data safely and efficiently.

Going mobile

Using the Leica Pegasus: Two mobile mapping solution, Heading and Associates conducted the surveys for the 26-kilometre rail line in just in fifteen minutes and delivered the data to the client next day. To put this into perspective, to obtain the same amount of detail, using traditional methods the same project would have taken an additional two months in the field to complete.

By mounting the Pegasus: Two to the hi-rail, the project team could eliminate danger zones and significant health and safety risks, capture high-level detail and provide the client additional

data such as wire locations and overhead power lines without disruption to the network.  This level of detail could not have been captured in the same amount of time using traditional survey practices.

Leica Pegasus: Two and the mobile mapping process has revolutionised the world of surveying. Using the mobile mapping process and Leica Geosystems’ technology, Heading and Associates could capture the rail length with a scan speed of one million points per second, maintain survey grade accuracy of less than two centimetres and deliver the project on time, on budget and with safety at the highest priority.

We see a giant technological jump for data acquisition from the traditional total stations to the latest mobile mapping systems,” said Frank Heading, Operations Manager of Heading and Associates. “With the Pegasus: Two, we can easily capture high density 3D point cloud data along with quality photographs and deliver a detailed and rapid data capture solution for our client. We saved time, reduced safety risk and maximised value by reducing a two-month project to just one day.”

A smarter way

Leica Pegasus: Two allows data to be extracted from the point cloud for a range of applications including centreline alignment, measuring road edges and line markings, digital terrain models of road surfaces and surrounding corridors, asset identification and location and clearances to nearby structures.

Heading and Associates could utilise the data for dilapidation surveys to capture the current condition and safeguard their client from any additional costs. Because point clouds provide a comprehensive view, immediately required data could be extracted from the cloud to meet instant customer needs, with further information extracted later without needing to return to the site to collect data.

The point cloud data gives us that next level of confidence once we return to the office and start stringing data. With point cloud data, we can quickly and easily identify and take into consideration the separation needed between services such as high voltage lines. This level of detail provides our clients confidence prior to releasing the design and in turn avoids costly redesigns and error “, said Heading.

Moving forward

For Heading and Associates, the survey-grade accurate data available from Pegasus: Two creates opportunities to undertake additional and larger projects, since an area only needs to be scanned once to generate multiple assets.  “A mobile mapping solution opens opportunities for rail specific projects as it removes the limitations of stopping trains, interrupting the service network, and the need to survey at night”, concluded Heading.

Leica Geosystems

Christian Fellinger

Mobile Mapping Sales Manager, Australasia

Mobile: +61 (0)409 102 178 E-Mail:


Heading & Associates

Frank Heading, Operations Manager

Phone: +61 (0)408 550 695 Email:

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