In infrastructure management system, decision makers are challenged with the growing demand in safety and at the same time the pressure to minimize the escalating costs of maintenance and rehabilitation.
Furthermore budget constraints or allocation of budgets for other purposes makes the decision process an arduous task. In this regard, infrastructure facilities are expected to be economically efficient in serving a specific purpose. At the same time they should fulfill the given requirements in regard to safety. In consequence, the need to focus on risk informed, optimized decision is immense. With the aid of lifecycle risk assessment different decision alternatives can be compared and ranked. This makes lifecycle assessment an essential tool at all infrastructural management levels.
In case of railway bridges, the service interruption for maintenance and replacement of components is crucial and costly. Maintenance activities on the heavy traffic routes lead to the delay or cancelation of trains, costs and problems making the replacement or strengthening actions extremely expensive, especially when traffic disturbances are taken into consideration.
Although the framework for the LCA of infrastructure are developed, their practical applications as a whole is limited so far. In the LCA, rail bridges and rail track deterioration aspects and maintenance strategies are done by considering them separately. Furthermore the lifecycle costs are treated considering economic aspects and in few cases environmental issues are included. The social performance indicators associated to train cancellation or delay during the repair and maintenance of rail track or bridge are not yet performed. The practical maintenance activities for instance for bridges and tracks are performed independently, this escalates the lifecycle costs when the rout segment is closed when either the bridge or the track is maintained. On top of the escalating financial costs, the risk based lifecycle analysis should include the indirect consequences on the user and the environment as well as a general long term effect on the attractiveness of the rail traffic. Social performance indicators such as traveler delay time, additional costs, and their related long term negative consequences on the preference of the rail transport mode by the users are crucial factors.
To be able to have different maintenance options for an optimization purpose, an organized collection of data in the form of database is to be done. This is a procedural action for preparation of the basis for the lifecycle optimization based on the lifecycle performance and the direct and indirect consequences. The integrated lifecycle assessment and the developed data base will sever to establish performance indicators for a railway network in reference to technical, economic, social and environmental requirements. The data related to the integrated lifecycle performance parameters mentioned will be organized to model the optimization process. The total performance will be computed by multiplying the normalized performance indicators of the economic, social and environmental requirement by the corresponding weighting factors.
The aim of this exploratory study is therefore to examine if this new integrated life cycle assessment of railway networks is possible. This will be done by developing a model based n a real network. With this a final statements can be made.