CN’s Rail Inspection Portals

CN's Rail Inspection Portals near Winnipeg, Manitoba

CN’s Rail Inspection Portals near Winnipeg, Manitoba

In May 2018, CN awarded a contract to Duos Technologies to provide four Rail Inspection Portals (rip®) around Winnipeg, Manitoba to perform automated inspection of passing trains. These portals incorporate high speed cameras and thermal imaging to inspect rail cars at speeds up to 70 MPH (110 km/hr).

These portals are now in operation, and CN is clearly happy enough with them that it placed an order for three additional portals in November 2018. Two of these portals will be built in the US and one in Canada, I believe near Toronto.

How They Work

LED lights
LED lights

The portal has high speed cameras mounted on the sides, top and bottom of a frame that encloses a track. These cameras basically take a series of thin, very tall “slice” photos that are stitched together by the system’s software into a complete picture of a rail car.

The portals are equipped with banks of LEDs to light up the train as it passes through, so they can be used at any time of day.

Rail portal under construction in Winnipeg

Rail portal under construction in Winnipeg

The rail car inspection portal at Vivian, Manitoba

The rail car inspection portal at Vivian, Manitoba

CN 5655 at Vivian, Manitoba
CN 5655 at Vivian, Manitoba

The portal did not light up as the train went through, so I don’t think it was quite in service yet. Before the train arrived, I did hear some fans or something like that, so I think it had heaters running. Still, it was pretty neat to see a train go through it.

Containers going through the rail inspection portal at Vivian
Containers going through the rail inspection portal at Vivian
CN 2314 entering the rail inspection portal

CN 2314 entering the rail inspection portal

Scanning... scanning...
Scanning… scanning…

Here’s a closeup of the train rolling through. The train is lit and photographed on both sides, top and underside.

Closeup of the rail portal in action

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